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THE  LIBRARY 

OF 

THE  UNIVERSITY 
OF  CALIFORNIA 

LOS  ANGELES 


FROM  THE  VIRGINIA  PLANTATION 


TO 


THE  NATIONAL  CAPITOL 


OR 


The  First  and  Only  Negro  Representative  in 
Congress  from  the  Old  Dominion 


JOHN   MERCER    LANGSTON 


ILLUSTRATED. 


Self-reliance  the  secret  of  success 


HARTFORD,  CONN. 

AMERICAN    PUBLISHING  COMPANY 

1894 


Copyright  1894 
By  JOHN   MERCER  LANGSTON 

(A 'I  rights  reserved) 


E 
1 

W14 


Gbis  Book  110  IRespectfulty  Debicatcb 

To  the  young,  aspiring  American,  who,  by  manly  and 
self-reliant  effort,  would  gain  standing  and  influence,  serving 
his  day  and  generation  by  such  personal  accomplishment 
and  useful,  heroic  achievement,  as  show  him  worthy  of  his 
citizenship. 

God  and  Destiny  shall  prove  themselves  the  sure  sup- 
ports of  such  person,  bearing  him  to  victory  in  every  con- 
test. He  has  only,  therefore,  to  be  true,  brave  and  faithful, 
to  win  the  highest  rewards  of  dignified  life,  as  bestowed  in 
honors  and  emoluments  by  his  fellow-citizens. 


1344812 


ILLUSTRATIONS. 


PAGE. 

FROM  PLANTATION  TO  CAPITOL, Frontispiece 

PORTRAIT  OF  JOHN  MERCER  LANGSTON,  1894,  .  .  Facing  Page  u 

LEAVING  THE  VIRGINIA  PLANTATION, 31 

THE  RETURN  OF  COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  JOHN, 50 

THE  ADMISSION  TO  THE  OHIO  BAR,  1854, 125 

PRESENTATION  OF  COLORS  TO  5rrH  U.  S.  COLORED  TROOPS,  CAMP 

DELAWARE,  OHIO,  1863, 210 

ADDRESSING  THE  COLORED  TROOPS  AT  NASHVILLE,  TENN.,  1864,  .  228 
AFTER  THE  SPEECH  AT  LOUISA  COURT  HOUSE,  VIRGINIA,  1867,  .  .  270 

VISITING  THE  GRAVES  OF  HIS  PARENTS, 272 

BOARD  OF  HEALTH,  OF  THE  DISTRICT  OF  COLUMBIA,  ....  318 

PORTRAIT  OF  SALOMON,  PRESIDENT  OF  HAITI, 393 

ADMISSION  TO  THE  HOUSE  OF  REPRESENTATIVES,  WASHINGTON, 

SEPTEMBER  23RD,  1890, 498 

MAKING  HIS  FIRST  SPEECH  IN  THE  HOUSE  OF  REPRESENTATIVES, 

JANUARY  16,  1891, 514 

HILLSIDE  COTTAGE,  WASHINGTON,  D.  C., 521 

PORTRAIT  OF  Miss.  NETTIE  D.  LANGSTON, 527 

PORTRAIT  OF  MRS.  J.  M.  LANGSTON, 531 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER  I. 
Parents  and  Birthplace — Emancipation   Deed   of  his  Mother — Will 

and  Testament  of  his  Father— The  Four  Orphans,     .         .         .11 

CHAPTER  II. 

Settlement  of  his  Father's  Estate— Changes  upon  the  Plantation — 
Uncle  Billy  Quarles — The  Fugitive  Slave — The  Preparation  and 
Departure  for  Ohio— Arrival  at  Chillicothe 23 

CHAPTER  III. 

Becomes  a  Member  of  the  Gooch  Family— Col.  Wm.  D.  Gooch — 
The  Family — Early  Education—"  Westward,  Ho  !  "  the  Popu- 
lar Sentiment — Starts  for  Missouri  with  the  Goochs — The  Court 
Interferes  and  Requires  his  Return — The  Separation  from  his 
Friends, 37 

CHAPTER  IV. 

The  Great  Change— Receives  needed  and  valuable  Discipline  under 
Mr.  Long— Goes  to  Cincinnati— The  Limited  Educational 
Advantages  Offered  the  Colored  Youth  there— Deep  Seated 
and  '  Growing  Sentiment  against  the  Colored  People— Cowardly 
and  Deadly  Attack  upon  them  in  1840 — Dark  Days,  .  .  -54 

CHAPTER  V. 

Colonel  Gooch  visits  him — The  Promise  which  he  did  not  Keep — 
Returns  to  Chillicothe — High  Record  in  School — "  You  Have 
in  you,  John,  all  the  Elements  of  an  Orator,"  .  .  .  .68 

CHAPTER  VI. 

Decides  to  go  to  Oberlin  College— His  Arrival— First  Impressions 
— The  First  Year — Success  as  a  Country  School-teacher — 
Returns  to  College—"  We  do  not  Entertain  Niggers  "— 
Graduates,  1849.  ..........  77 

vii 


viii  CONTENTS. 

PAGE. 

CHAPTER  VII. 

Oberlin.  its  Community  and  its  College-The  »  Oberlin  Movement  " 
-The  Founders  of  the  College-Oberlin,  a  Leader  and  Re- 
former-The  "  Liberty  School  "-Fugitive  Slave  Population- 

••  What  shall  I  do  ?  " 97 

CHAPTER  VIII. 
Seeks  Admission  to  a  Certain  Law  School,  but  is  Denied—"  I  am  a 

Colored  American  "—"I  Do  not  need  Sympathy,"     .        .        .104 

CHAPTER  IX. 

Studies  Theology— Refuses  many  Desirable  Calls— Studies  Law  in 
Judge  Bliss'  Office— Makes  Rapid  Advancement— Admitted  to 

the  Bar,  1854, I] 

CHAPTER  X. 

Purchases  a  Farm— Rural  Life— His  Disagreeable  Neighbor— A 
Negro-hater— His  First  Case— Success  and  Pocket  Full  of 
Retainers— Strong  Anti-negro  Sentiment  in  Ohio— "  That 
Darkey  is  too  Smart  for  You  " — His  Marriage 126 

CHAPTER  XI. 

Anniversary  Meeting,  American  Anti-Slavery  Society,  May,  1855— 
His  Speech >47 

CHAPTER  XII. 

Sells  his  Farm  and  Settles  in  Oberlin— His  new  Home—"  A  Nigger 
Lawyer  "—Resents  an  Insult  and  is  a  Winner — His  Practise 
and  Success  as  the  Colored  Lawyer  of  Ohio— His  First  Colored 
Client I56 

CHAPTER  XIII. 
A  Rare  and  Interesting  Case  which  Tested  his  Powers,     .         .         •   i?1 

CHAPTER  XIV. 

Prophetic  Events  Preceding  the  great  Struggle  and  Overthrow  of 
Slavery — Negro-catchers  in  Oberlin — Kidnapping  of  John  Price 
—The  Rescue— Arrest  of  Citizens,  their  Conviction  and  Release 
—John  Brown,  Jr.  visits  him— Three  Oberlin  Men  Join  John 
Brown's  Immortal  Spartan  Band, 181 

CHAPTER  XV. 

Recruits  Colored  Troops  for  the  National  Service— The  54th  Massa- 
chusetts—The 55th  Massachusetts— The  5th  United  States 
Colored  Troops .  .198 


CONTEXTS.  ix 

PAG  E 

CHAPTER  XVI. 

First  Official  Errand  to  the  National  Capital— General  Lee's  Sur- 
render— Assassination  of  Lincoln — Colored  Camp  at  Nashville 
— The  Fugitive  Slave  Again,  .  .  .  .  .  .  .218 

CHAPTER  XVII. 

Early  Labors  and  Observations  among  the  Freed  People— First 
Official  Trip  through  the  South — His  Faith  in  his  People — The 
Colored  Women, 232 

CHAPTER  XVIII. 

First  Professional  Call  to  Washington— Appointed  General  Inspector 
of  the  Bureau  of  Refugees,  Freedmen  and  Abandoned  Lands — 
Mr.  Langston  and  the  Republican  Party— Visits  his  old  Home 
— Lousia  Court  House, 249 

CHAPTER  XIX. 

His  Labors  in  the  South — Their  Influence  and  Effect — President 
Johnson  opposed  to  General  Howard— Action  of  General  Grant 
—Prosperity  of  the  Colored  People  in  the  Old  North  State— 
His  Popularity  in  the  Carolinas,  ......  275 

CHAPTER  XX. 

Founds  and  Organizes  the  Law  Department  of  Howard  Univer- 
sity—Is made  its  Vice  and  Acting  President— Ralph  Waldo 
Emerson  visits  the  University— First  Lady  Law  Student,  .  .  296 

CHAPTER  XXI. 

President  Grant  Appoints  him  a  Member  of  the  Board  of  Health  of 
the  District  of  Columbia — Personnel  of  the  Board— Resigna- 
tion—Resolutions  and  Gifts  of  his  Associates 318 

CHAPTER  XXII. 

Three  Great  Enterprises — Charlotte  Scott — The  Lincoln  Monument 
—Freemen's  Saving  and  Trust  Company— Minor  Normal 
School, 335 

CHAPTER  XXIII. 

Appointed  Minister-resident  and  Consul-general  to  Haiti — Arrival 
and  Reception — First  Impressions— Haiti  and  the  Haytians— 
Port-au-Prince, 350 


x  CONTENTS. 

PAGE. 

CHAPTER  XXIV. 

The  Legation  and  Residence  of  the  American  Minister— San  Souct 
—  Diplomatic  and  Consular  Services  and  Achievements— Our 
Trade  with  Haiti  greatly  Increased—"  The  Haytians  have  gone 
crazy  on  American  Blue  Denims," 375 

CHAPTER  XXV. 

Suit  against  the  United  States  Government  for  Balance  of  Unpaid 
Salary-— Judgment  Secured— Paid  in  Full— The  Case  a  Preced- 
ent of  Importance 4°i 

CHAPTER  XXVI. 

Accepts  the  Presidency  of  the  Virginia  Normal  and  Collegiate  Insti- 
tute— His  work  of  Organization — The  School  Flourishes  under 
his  Guidance — Gen.  Fitzhugh  Lee 409 

CHAPTER  XXVII. 
Resigns  the  Presidency  and    Leaves  the   Institute — Beloved  by  his 

Scholars— Their  Expressions  of  Friendship 425 

CHAPTER  XXVIII. 

.  Nominated  to  the  Fifty-first  Congress — Opposed  by  General 
Mahone — "  No  colored  man  would  be  allowed  to  stand  " — The 
"  N*gger  "  must  be  Beaten— The  Black  Belt  of  Virginia— The 
Campaign — "  Harrison,  Morton  and  Langston's  Invinci- 
bles," 438 

CHAPTER  XXIX. 

Election  Day,  November  6,  1888— Represenatives  at  Every  Polling 
Place — Voting  in  Petersburg — The  Result — Counted  Out — 
Fights  for  his  Seat  and  Wins— Admission  to  the  House  of 
Representatives,  September  23,  1890 474 

CHAPTER  XXX. 

Congressional  Experience  and  Record — Close  Observation  of  House 
Affairs— The  Fifty-first  Congress  and  its  Leaders— Its  Important 
Enactments— Mr.  Langston  Returns  to  his  District  at  Close  of 
Session— Visiting  his  Constituents— First  Speech— Bills  Intro- 
duced—Declines Nomination  to  Fifty-third  Congress,  .  .  504 

CHAPTER  XXXI. 

Description  of  Hillside  Cottage  and  Surroundings— The  Family- 
Arthur,  Ralph,  Nettie  and  Frank  ;  their  Education,  Marriage, 
etc.— The  Grandchildren— Mrs.  Langston— Mrs.  Fidler— Miss 
Percival— The  old  Home  in  Virginia,  ...  .521 


PORTRAIT   OF    JOHN    MERCER    LANGSTON,    1894. 


CHAPTER  I. 

PARENTS   AND    BIRTHPLACE. 

JOHN  MERCER  LANGSTON  was  born  upon  a  plantation, 
located  three  miles  from  Louisa  Court  House,  in  Louisa 
County,  Virginia,  on  the  I4th  day  of  December,  1829. 

The  plantation  was  a  large  one,  beautifully  located  and 
well  appointed  in  every  respect.  It  was  fully  furnished  with 
slaves,  according  to  the  custom  of  the  times,  and  being  of 
rich,  fertile  soil,  was  made  valuable  in  the  cultivation  of 
products  peculiar  to  that  section  of  the  State  and  the  coun- 
try. 

Upon  this  plantation,  after  the  manner  and  habit  of  the 
wealthy  slave-holding  classes,  there  were  found  the  Great 
House,  occupied  by  the  owner  for  his  own  special  accom- 
modation ;  the  smaller,  though  in  this  case  the  equally 
important  one,  used  as  the  residence  and  home  of  the 
favored  slave  of  the  place  ;  with  such  usual  quarters  as 
were  necessary  to  meet  the  demands  of  the  common  slaves, 
engaged  in  ordinary  field  and  other  services. 

The  owner  of  this  plantation  was  Captain  Ralph  Quarles, 
a  man  of  large  wealth,  having  in  his  own  right  great  landed 
possessions,  with  many  slaves.  His  social  relations  were  of 
excellent  character,  as  his  name  imports,  among  those 
acquainted  with  his  family.  He  was  a  person  of  broad  and 
varied  education,  with  a  love  of  learning  and  culture  remark- 

FI 


12         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

able  for  his  day  ;  while  his  habits  of  leisure,  natural  inclina- 
tion and  circumstances,  offered  abundant  opportunity,  with 
such  influences  as  contributed  to  the  enlargement  and  per- 
fection of  his  general  information.     His  views  with  regard 
to  slavery  and  the  management  of  slaves  upon  a  plantation 
by  overseers,  were  peculiar  and  unusual.     He  believed  that 
slavery  ought  to  be  abolished.     But  he  maintained  that  the 
mode  of  its  abolition  should  be  by  the  voluntary  individual 
action  of  the  owner.     He  held  that  slaves  should  be  dealt 
with    in    such    manner,   as    to    their    superintendence    and 
management,  as  to  prevent   cruelty,  always,  and   to  inspire 
in  them,  so  far  as  practicable,  feelings  of  confidence  in  their 
masters.      Hence,  he  would  employ  no  overseer,  but,  divid- 
ing the  slaves  into  groups,  convenient  for  ordinary  direction 
and  employment,  make  one  of  their  own   number  the  chief 
director  of  the  force.     Of  course,  on  this  plan,  care  must  be 
exercised,    in    his    judgment,   to    prevent    any    feelings    of 
jealousy,  or  misunderstanding,  among  those  whose  benefit 
was  sought.     With    such  views  put   in    practice   upon    his 
plantation,  it   is  not   difficult   to  perceive,  that    his  course 
would  attract  attention,  with  comment  not    always  approv- 
ing; often,  in  fact,  severe  and  condemnatory.     Besides,  such 
course,  finally,  as  was  natural  and  inevitable,  under  the  cir- 
cumstances, wrought  social  ostracism,  compelling  one  hold- 
ing  such  views    and    adopting   such   practices,    to    pursue 
exclusive  life  among  his  own  slaves,  with  such  limited  society 
otherwise,  as  might  be  brought  by   business    interests,   or 
merely  personal  regard,  within  his  reach.     Thus  situated,  it 
was  not  unnatural  for  such  person  to  find  a  woman,  a  com- 
panion  for  life,  among   his  slaves,  to  whom   he   gave  his 
affections ;  and,  if  forbidden  by  law  to  sanctify,  in  holy  wed- 
lock, their  relations,  to  take  and  make  her,  Heaven  approving 
their  conduct,  the  mother  of  his  children. 

Captain  Quarles  came  of  an  ancestry  distinguished  for 
the  vigor  of  its  intellect  and  the  robustness  of  its  manhood. 
Once  fixed  in  its  convictions  and  determinations,  nothing 
seemed  able  to  hinder  or  change  its  course  of  action.  The 
son  of  such  ancestry  was  loyal  and  patriotic,  not  only  as  a 


PARENTS  AND  BIRTHPLACE.  13 

matter  of  duty,  but  by  reason  of  the  very  elements  and 
instincts  of  his  nature.  So  that,  at  the  call  of  his  country, 
in  the  Revolutionary  times,  he  made  quick  response  and 
served  with  such  courage  and  devotion,  as  to  win  not  only 
the  military  title  ascribed  to  him,  but  distinction  among 
her  best  and  bravest  sons. 

The  woman  for  whom  he  discovered  special  attachment 
and  who,  finally,  became  really  the  mistress  of  the  Great 
House  of  the  plantation,  reciprocating  the  affection  of  her 
owner,  winning  his  respect  and  confidence,  was  the  one 
whom  he  had  taken  and  held,  at  first,  in  pledge  for  money 
borrowed  of  him  by  her  former  owner  ;  but  whom,  at  last, 
he  made  the  mother  of  his  four  children,  one  daughter  and 
three  sons.  Her  name  was  Lucy  Langston.  Her  surname 
was  of  Indian  origin,  and  borne  by  her  mother,  as  she  came 
out  of  a  tribe  of  Indians  of  close  relationships  in  blood  to 
the  famous  Pocahontas.  Of  Indian  extraction,  she  was 
possessed  of  slight  proportion  of  negro  blood  ;  and  yet,  she 
and  her  mother,  a  full-blooded  Indian  woman,  who  was 
brought  upon  the  plantation  and  remained  there  up  to  her 
death,  were  loved  and  honored  by  their  fellow-slaves  of  every 
class.  Lucy  was  a  woman  of  small  stature,  substantial 
build,  fair  looks,  easy  and  natural  bearing,  even  and  quiet 
temper,  intelligent  and  thoughtful,  who  accepted  her  lot 
with  becoming  resignation,  while  she  always  exhibited  the 
deepest  affection  and  earnest  solicitude  for  her  children. 
Indeed,  the  very  last  words  of  this  true  and  loving  mother, 
when  she  came  to  die,  were  uttered  in  the  exclamation, 
"  Oh,  that  I  could  see  my  children  once  more  !  " 

As  early  as  1806,  as  her  emancipation  papers  show,  Cap- 
tain Quarles  set  Lucy  and  her  daughter  Maria,  then  her 
only  child,  at  liberty.  Subsequently,  three  other  children, 
sons,  were  born  to  them  ;  and,  though  it  may  be  indirectly, 
they  were  certainly  and  positively  recognized  by  Captain 
Quarles,  as  his  children,  in  his  last  will  and  testament. 

The  emancipation  deed  of  Lucy  and  her  daughter  Maria 
reads  as  follows : 


i4         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

••  Be  it  known  to  all  whom  it  may  concern,  that  I,  Ralph  Quarles  of  Lousia 
-County,  do  hereby  liberate,  manumit,  and  set  free  my  negro  slaves  Lucy,  a 
"woman,  and  Maria  a  girl,  daughter  of  said  Lucy;  and  I  do  hereby  renounce 
"forever  all  right,  jurisdiction,  authority,  and  power,  which  I  have,  or  may 
"lawfully  exercise,  over  the  said  slaves.  And  I  do  hereby  declare  the  sa.d 
"slaves  to  be  henceforward  free  persons,  at  liberty  to  go  when  and  where  they 
•'  please,  and  to  exercise  and  enjoy  all  the  rights  of  free  persons  so  far  as  I  can 
"authorize,  or  the  laws  of  Virginia  will  permit;  and  I  hereby  bind  myself,  my 
«  heirs,  executors,  etc.,  to  warrant  and  forever  defend  to  the  said  Lucy  and 
"Maria  their  right  to  freedom,  clear  of  the  claims  of  all  persons  whatsoever. 
« In  testimony  whereof,  I  have  hereunto  affixed  my  seal  and  signed  my  name, 
"  this  first  day  of  April  one  thousand  eight  hundred  and  six. 

"  (Signed)  RALPH  QUARLES." 


The  three  sons  born  to  such  parents  were  Gideon  Q., 
Charles  H.,  and  John  M.  Langston  ;  the  children  under  the 
circumstances  following  the  condition  of  their  mother  and 
bearing  her  name. 

That  portion  of  the  last  will  and  testament  of  Captain 
Quarles,  which  has  to  do  with  the  three  sons  here  mentioned, 
is  contained  in  the  following  words : 

"  In  the  name  of  God,  Amen !  I,  Ralph  Quarles,  of  the  County  of  Louisa,  and 
"  State  of  Virginia,  reflecting  on  the  uncertainty  of  human  life,  have  thought 
"  proper  to  make  and  ordain  this  my  last  will  and  testament  in  manner  and 
"  form  following,  that  is  to  say  : 

"  1st.  I  desire  that  out  of  the  money  that  I  may  have  at  my  death  and  the 
"debts  that  may  be  owing  to  me  at  that  time,  all  my  just  debts  and  necessary 
"  expenses  may  be  paid. 

"  2d.  I  give  and  devise  to  Gideon  Langston,  Charles  Langston,  and  John 
"  Langston,  the  three  youngest  children  of  Lucy,  a  woman  whom  I  have  eman- 
"  cipated  by  a  deed  of  emancipation  bearing  date  the  first  day  of  April  one  thou- 
"  sand  eight  hundred  and  six  and  duly  admitted  to  record  in  the  Clerk's  Office  of 
"the  County  Court  of  Louisa,  to  them  and  their  heirs  forever  all  my  lands  lying 
"  on  Hickory  Creek  and  its  waters  in  the  County  of  Louisa  together  with  all  my 
"  stock  of  horses,  cattle,  sheep,  hogs  and  bees,  and  household  and  kitchen  f  ur- 
"niture,  and  plantation  and  all  other  utensils  of  every  sort  whatsoever,  including 
"  wagons,  carts  and  still,  and  all  the  grain  of  every  kind,  and  all  the  hay  and 
"  fodder,  and  dead  victuals  that  I  may  have  on  the  above-mentioned  lands  at  the 
'  time  of  my  death,  and  also  all  the  crops  of  every  kind  that  may  be  growing  there- 
"  on  at  that  time  to  be  equally  divided  among  them  whenever  they  may  think 
"  proper  to  divide  it.  But  if  the  said  Gideon  Langston,  Charles  Langston,  and 
"  John  Langston  should  wish  to  remove  to  some  other  place  during  the  time 
"  between  my  death  and  the  time  of  the  youngest  of  them  coming  of  age,  then  and 
"  in  that  case  it  is  my  will  and  I  do  hereby  direct  that  my  executors,  the  survivors 
"  or  survivor  of  them  may  sell  the  above-mentioned  lands  and  lay  out  the 


PARENTS  AND  BIRTHPLACE.  15 

"  money  arising  from  the  sales  thereof  in  such  other  lands  as  they  the  said 
"  Gideon  Langston,  Charles  Langston,  and  John  Langston  may  wish  it  laid 
•'  out  in.  And  I  also  give  and  devise  to  them  the  said  Gideon  Langston. 
"  Charles  Langston,  and  John  Langston  and  their  heirs  all  the  money  that  I 
"  may  have  at  the  time  of  my  death,  and  also  all  the  debts  of  every  description 
"  that  may  be  owing  to  me  at  that  time  except  what  I  have  hereinbefore 
"  particularly  disposed  of  and  what  I  may  hereinafter  particularly  dispose  of, 
"and  I  desire  that  my  executors,  the  survivors  or  survivor  of  them  may 
"  either  lay  out  that  part  of  the  above-mentioned  money  and  debts  which  they 
"  the  said  Gideon  Langston,  Charles  Langston  and  John  Langston  may  be 
"  entitled  to  in  lands  or  put  it  out  at  interest  for  their  benefit  until  they 
"severally  attain  the  age  of  twenty-one  years,  and  as  they  attain  that  age  pay 
"them  their  equal  parts.  And  I  moreover  give  to  them  the  said  Gideon 
"Langston,  Charles  Langston  and  John  Langston  and  their  heirs  all  my 
"  United  States  Bank  Stock,  and  also  all  my  Virginia  Bank  Stock,  and  desire 
"  that  my  executors  the  survivors  or  survivor  of  them  may  receive  the  dividends 
"  as  they  become  due  on  the  said  Bank  Stock  and  apply  the  money  to  the 
"support  and  maintenance  of  them  the  said  Gideon  Langston,  Charles 
"  Langston,  and  John  Langston  if  necessary,  if  not  put  it  out  at  interest  till 
"they  severally  attain  the  age  of  twenty-one  years,  and  as  they  attain  that  age 
"pay  them  their  equal  parts  of  the  said  Bank  Stock  and  interest,  if  any,  that 
"  may  have  accrued. 


"  And  lastly  I  do  hereby  constitute  and  appoint  Mr.  Nathaniel  Mills  and  Mr. 
"  William  D.  Gooch,  and  my  nephews  David  Thomson  and  John  Quarles 
"executors  of  this  rny  last  will  and  testament,  hereby  revoking  all  other  or 
"  former  wills  or  testaments  by  me  heretofore  made.  The  foregoing  will  is 
"  wholly  written  by  myself  and  will  therefore  require  no  subscribing  witnesses 
"  to  prove  it. 

"  In  witness  whereof  I  have  hereunto  set  my  hand  and  affixed  my  seal  this 
"  i8th  day  of  October  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  one  thousand  eight  hundred  and 
"  thirty-three. 

"  (Signed)  RALPH  QUARLES." 

It  is  apparent  from  the  gifts  of  landed  and  personal 
property  made  in  his  will  that  Captain  Quarles  regarded  the 
sons  of  Lucy,  described  therein,  as  sustaining  peculiar 
relations  to  him  as  well  as  to  her  ;  and,  hence,  his  unusually 
generous  and  considerate  treatment  of  them.  Could 
his  tender  care  of  them,  in  their  extreme  youth,  and  his 
careful  attention  to  their  education,  as  discovered  by  him 
as  soon  as  they  were  old  enough  for  study,  be  made  known, 
one  could  understand,  even  more  sensibly,  how  he  loved 
and  cherished  them  ;  being  only  prevented  from  giving  them 


16         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

his  own  name  and  settling  upon  them  his  entire  estate,  by 
the  circumstances  of  his  position,  which  would  not  permit 
either  the  one  or  the  other.  He  did  for  his  sons  all  he 
could;  exercising  paternal  wisdom,  in  the  partial  distri- 
bution of  his  property  in  their  behalf  and  the  appointment 
of  judicious  executors  of  his  will,  who  understood  his 
purposes  and  were  faithful  in  efforts  necessary  to  execute 
them.  Thus,  he  not  only  provided  well  for  the  education 
of  his  sons,  but,  in  large  measure,  made  allowance  for  their 
settlement  in  active,  profitable  business-life. 

The  Virginia  plantation  upon  which  John,  like  the  other 
sons,  was  born,  and  spent  the  first  and  tenderest  years  of 
his  life,  was  one  of  the  very  best  and  most  wisely-ordered 
of  his  native  State.  It  was  fertile,  handsomely  located,  in 
the  midst  of  a  beautiful  section  of  the  country,  and 
surrounded  by  other  extensive,  rich  and  productive  farms, 
distinguished  for  their  improvements  of  valuable  and 
excellent  character.  The  owners  of  several  of  these  plan- 
tations, the  most  desirable,  were  blood  connections  of 
Captain  Quarles.  All  of  such  plantations  were  cultivated 
by  slave  labor.  Whatever  may  have  been  the  rigor  of  its 
management  upon  other  plantations  of  the  neighborhood, 
upon  that  upon  which  the  sons  of  Lucy  Langston  were 
born  and  spent  their  early  lives,  no  one  witnessed,  in  dealings 
had  with  the  slaves  thereupon,  any  other  than  mild,  well 
tempered  and  considerate  treatment. 

For  twenty  years  before  his  death,  no  white  man  resided 
upon  his  plantation  other  than  Captain  Quarles  himself. 
No  overseer  was  employed ;  and  none  other  than  a  single 
young  colored  boy,  one  of  the  slaves,  was  punished  in  any 
wise  during  such  period.  He  had  persistently  disobeyed 
the  orders  of  his  superintendent  after  being  several  times 
warned  and  directed  by  his  owner ;  and,  thus,  incorrigible, 
deserved  and  received  merited  correction  only. 

Indeed,  Captain  Quarles,  by  reason  of  his  personal  con- 
victions and  opinions,  with  respect  to  the  humane  and  con- 
siderate treatment  of  all  slaves,  sought  to  demonstrate, 
upon  his  own  plantation,  the  wisdom  and  advantage  of 


PARENTS  AND  BIRTHPLACE.  17 

such  plans  of  management,  as  were  calculated  to  develop 
the  self-respect  and  self-reliance  of  every  slave.  He 
allowed  and  tolerated,  therefore,  no  abuses,  outrages,  or 
severe  and  unnatural  scourgings  upon  his  place ;  but  culti- 
vated kind,  and  so  far  as  practicable,  indulgent  treatment 
of  every  one.  So  he  gained  the  respect  and  confidence  of 
all,  and  might  very  well  trust  his  people,  as  was  his  habit, 
to  govern  and  direct,  largely,  their  own  movements.  To 
this  end,  he  divided  his  slaves,  as  already  stated,  and  fur- 
nishing superintendents  and  managers  of  their  own  number, 
easily  accomplished  his  purposes. 

In  the  midst  of  such  conditions  of  slave  life  and  the  so- 
cial environments  connected  therewith,  the  boy  John 
began  life,  influenced  by  such  knowledge  of  his  father,  who 
always  treated  him  tenderly  and  affectionately,  and  by  such 
loving  care  of  his  mother,  as  seem  natural  and  inevitable. 

In  their  advanced  age,  as  late  as  1834,  Captain  Quarles 
and  Lucy  Langston,  after  brief  illness,  on  the  part  of  either, 
died  upon  the  plantation,  where  they  had  lived  so  long  to- 
gether. The  former,  as  he  neared  his  end,  requested  and 
ordered,  that  Lucy,  when  she  died,  should  be  buried  by  his 
side,  and,  accordingly,  upon  a  small  reservation  in  the  plan- 
tation, they  sleep  together  their  long  quiet  sleep.  While 
the  humblest  possible  surroundings  mark  the  spot  of  their 
burial,  no  one  has  ever  disturbed  or  desecrated  it. 

During  his  last  sickness,  Captain  Quarles  was  attended 
only  by  Lucy,  her  children,  and  his  slaves.  During  the 
two  days  his  body  lay  upon  its  bier,  in  the  Great  House,  it 
was  guarded,  specially  and  tenderly,  by  the  noble  negro 
slave,  who,  when  his  master  was  taken  sick  suddenly,  and 
felt  that  he  needed  medical  assistance,  without  delay,  but  a 
few  nights  before,  hurried  across  the  country  to  the  home 
of  the  physician,  and  secured  his  aid  for  his  stricken  owner. 

The  beautiful  day  on  which  he  was  borne  from  his  house 
to  his  last  resting-place,  by  his  slaves,  and,  in  the  midst  of 
their  tears  and  sobs,  committed  to  the  earth  till  the  great 
Resurrection,  was  only  surpassed  in  its  brightness,  its  splen- 
dor and  glory  by  the  other  day  which  quickly  followed, 


i8         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

when  Lucy,  who  had  fallen  asleep  in  her  own  house,  at  the 
other  end  of  the  garden,  was  borne  thence  to  her  grave  by 
his  side,  in  the  arms  of  the  same  true,  considerate,  Christian 
people,  many  of  them,  then  slaves,  but  on  the  verge  of 
their  emancipation  and  freedom. 

Among  those  who  followed  their  aged  parents  to  the 
grave,  were  their  own  children,  the  one  daughter  and 
three  sons,  already  named.  Of  such  children,  Maria  was 
the  only  one  who,  born  before  her  mother  was  set  free,  was 
like  her  a  slave  ;  and,  hence,  was  made  the  subject  of  eman- 
cipation. Far  older  than  either  of  the  other  children,  she 
had  not  only  experienced,  in  this  single  way,  the  deep  in- 
terest which  her  father  took  in  her;  but  in  every  attention 
given  to  her  support,  education  and  improvement,  she  had 
enjoyed  the  most  abundant  evidence  of  his  fatherly  disposi- 
tion toward  her,  and  his  constant  solicitude  for  her  welfare. 

At  the  time  of  her  emancipation,  Maria  was  esteemed  a 
young  girl  of  fine  looks,  intelligent  and  well  behaved. 
Early  care  was  shown  for  her  improvement ;  and  though 
she  was  not  taught  with  the  same  thoroughness  as  her 
brothers,  who  were  by  many  years  her  junior,  her  education 
was  not  neglected,  and  her  knowledge  of  books  was  unusual, 
certainly  for  a  girl  of  her  class — even  for  any  young  girl 
of  her  times.  She  spelled,  read  and  wrote  well,  being  rea- 
sonably advanced  in  all  the  ordinary  elementary  English 
branches.  Besides,  she  was  not  without  that  sort  of  general 
culture,  gained  at  home,  in  rather  intimate  association  with 
her  father,  who,  as  already  stated,  was  not  only  a  man  of 
excellent  native  endowment,  but  learning  and  refinement. 

Attractive  as  Maria  was,  for  the  reasons  indicated,  as 
well  as  others,  it  may  not  be  considered  surprising  that  she 
married  early  in  life,  upon  the  approval  of  her  father,  who 
thereupon  located  her,  in  handsome  manner,  upon  a  plan- 
tation in  his  own  neighborhood,  which  he  bought  and  gave 
her.  He  purchased  the  person,  who  was  her  husband,  as 
he  did  several  other  slaves,  men  and  women,  and  gave 
them  all  to  his  daughter.  For  many  years,  this  remarkable 
woman,  the  only  daughter  of  Ralph  Quarles,  conducted 


PARENTS  AND  BIRTHPLACE.  19 

not  only  all  her  household  and  domestic  affairs  generally, 
with  wisdom  and  success ;  but  all  her  business  matters, 
growing  meantime  a  large  number  of  sons  and  daughters, 
maintaining  her  family,  constantly,  in  respectable  and  pros- 
perous social  condition.  Through  her  influence  and  her 
own  efforts,  every  son  of  hers  and  every  daughter  was  given 
a  reasonably  fair  English  education,  with  instruction  in 
every  sort  of  domestic  and  plantation  industry,  with  sound 
moral  and  religious  training.  Her  children  numbered  in  all 
twenty-one  persons.  And,  it  is  not  known  to-day!  when  or 
where,  any  son  or  daughter  of  hers,  has  failed  in  manly  or 
womanly  duty  to  the  community.  Besides  being  persons 
of  fair  looks,  substantial  physical  development  and  sound 
mental  endowment,  the  children  of  Maria  have  not  failed 
to  so  improve  themselves  as  to  be  able  to  exert  wholesome 
educational  and  moral  influence  upon  their  own  offspring; 
and  thus  perpetuate  the  character  and  teachings  of  parents 
and  grand-parents,  who  must  ever  be  loved,  honored  and 
revered. 

Maria  lived  to  be  an  aged  woman  ;  and  she  and  her  hus- 
band, Joseph  Powell,  were  grateful  enough,  as  they  were 
permitted  to  see  one  after  another  of  their  family  to  better 
their  condition,  as  believed,  some  married,  others  still  single, 
leave  their  old  home  for  a  new  and  improved  one,  in  what 
was  then  the  western  State  of  Ohio. 

Finally,  these  excellent  parents,  the  wife  dying  first  and 
the  husband  following  shortly  thereafter,  were  gathered  in 
their  long  sweet  sleep  to  the  father  and  mother  of  the  wife, 
who  had  gone  before  them. 

The  other  children,  the  fruits  of  the  union  between  Cap- 
tain Quarles  and  Lucy  Langston,  were  the  three  boys  named, 
born,  respectively,  in  1809,  1817,  and  1829.  The  first  of 
these  boys  was  Gideon,  born  on  the  I5th  day  of  June  in  the 
year  indicated.  Cared  for  by  his  mother  and  nurse  in  ten- 
der affectionate  manner,  he  soon  reached  his  seventh  year 
in  playful,  interesting  life  on  the  plantation.  At  this  age, 
he  was  a  bright,  intelligent,  active,  promising  young  lad,  of 
remarkably  good  looks  and  manly  bearing.  His  father 


20         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

manifesting  the  deepest  interest  in  him,  sought  by  his  own 
efforts  and  influence  to  give  him  such  thorough  English 
education,  with  general  information  and  mental  and  moral 
improvement,  as  to  make  him  a  useful  man.  The  boy  was 
in  no  wise  wanting  in  native  aptitude  for  intellectual  accom- 
plishments—even for  earnest,  persistent  and  protracted 
study.  Nor  was  he  found  averse  to  any  one  of  the  require- 
ments enjoined  upon  him  by  his  instructor.  He  was  re- 
quired to  appear,  for  his  recitations,  in  his  father's  special 
apartments,  the  year  round,  at  five  o'clock  in  the  morning ; 
and  be  ready  after  his  duties  in  such  respect  had  been  met, 
at  the  usual  hour,  to  go  with  the  slave  boys  of  his  age  to 
such  service  upon  the  plantation  as  might  be  required  of 
them.  Thus  his  father  adopted  in  his  case,  the  rule  of  in- 
tellectual  and  manual  training  at  one  and  the  same  time ; 
so  that  when  he  reached  his  majority,  he  was  well-developed 
in  body,  and  strong  and  firm  ;  while  in  intellect,  he  was  well 
advanced  in  English  study,  with  his  powers,  mental  and 
moral,  in  good  trim  for  earnest,  scholarly  labor,  within  the 
measure  and  limits  of  his  opportunities. 

So  much  had  Gideon  followed  in  look,  in  physical  confor- 
mation, mental  endowment,  temper,  taste  and  disposition, 
his  father  and  those  of  his  father's  family,  that,  at  his  twenty- 
first  birthday,  a  very  significant  addition  was  made  to  his 
name.  Thereafter,  he  was  called  Gideon  Quarles  Langston. 
He  was  a  young  man  then  of  fine  appearance,  and  impress- 
ive and  agreeable  presence  ;  and  among  his  friends,  he  was 
always  admired  as  an  excellent  type  of  manly  character, 
made  even  more  admirable  by  his  gentle  and  pleasing  man- 
ners. His  physical  peculiarities  were  all  of  Anglo-Saxon 
stamp.  He  was  naturally  of  religious  turn  of  mind;  and 
discovered  under  all  circumstances  becoming  interest  in 
those  about  him,  however  humble  and  lowly,  seeking  where 
possible  to  render  them  some  service.  These  traits  of  char- 
acter, especially,  were  calculated  to  create  and  sustain  strong 
attachments  for  him,  not  only  among  those  who  resided  on 
the  plantation  with  him,  but  among  those,  who,  residing  on 
neighboring  plantations,  had  made  his  acquaintance. 


PARENTS  AND  BIRTHPLACE.  21 

Charles  was  sixteen  years  of  age,  only,  at  the  death  of  his 
father.  In  blood,  mind  and  disposition,  he  partook  of  the 
lineage  of  his  mother.  He  was  not  large  nor  apparently 
firm  of  body  ;  but  well  endowed  intellectually.  His  dispo- 
sition and  temper  though  ordinarily  well  controlled,  were 
not  naturally  of  the  easy  and  even  sort.  In  his  constitution, 
he  was  impetuous  and  aggressive ;  and  under  discipline  and 
opposition,  he  was  always  restive,  yet,  he  yielded  with  rea- 
sonable docility  and  obedience  to  the  training  to  which  his 
father,  interested  in  his  education,  sought  to  subject  him. 

From  seven  years  of  age  or  thereabout,  brought  under 
the  tuition  of  his  parent,  he  made,  under  the  circumstances, 
disturbed  as  he  was  often  by  attacks  of  ill  health,  unusual 
progress  in  manual  and  mental  improvement.  The  disci- 
pline which  was  adopted  in  his  case  was  precisely  the  same 
as  that  followed  in  dealing  with  his  brother,  Gideon  ;  and 
was,  naturally,  adapted  to  the  one  and  the  other,  in  special 
sense  only,  as  they  differed  somewhat  in  mental  make  and 
moral  traits  and  peculiarities.  The  difference  between  the 
two  boys,  in  such  respects,  was  as  marked  and  noteworthy 
as  the  diversity  in  their  physical  construction.  Neverthe- 
less the  discipline  adopted  for  their  improvement  proved 
to  be  advantageous,  certainly,  in  large  measure  to  both  of 
them. 

Charles  was  peculiar  in  this  respect,  however,  as  we  shall 
see  in  the  sequel,  that  his  knowledge  and  power  in  an 
emergency  never  failed  him  ;  and,  as  a  rule,  was  even  then 
more  vigorous  and  marked.  Early  this  trait  of  character 
manifested  itself.  If  he  mastered  study  with  less  facility 
and  with  greater  difficulty,  by  reason  of  any  want  of  taste  in 
such  regard  and  application,  he  was  never  wanting  in  orig- 
inality and  special  individual  power. 

The  start  which  his  father  gave  him  in  study  was  of  large 
service  throughout  his  life;  and  although  his  education  as 
gained  by  such  means  was  not  so  thorough  and  perfect  as 
that  of  his  brother,  it  made  deep  impression  upon  him  and 
did  more  than  anything  else  connected  with  his  life,  to  in- 
duce him  to  pursue  the  after-course  of  study  which  made 


22         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

him  stronger,  more  intelligent  and  useful  in  his  matured 
manhood.  Not  possessed  of  Gideon's  personal  presence, 
nor  so  fortunate  as  he  in  favor  or  manner  ;  in  debate,  or  in 
urgent  trying  rhetorical  effort,  while  they  were  both,  finally, 
men  of  decided  influence  in  such  respects,  he  far  surpassed 
his  brother,  and,  as  between  the  two,  was  by  far  the  most 
successful  and  masterly  disputant  and  orator.  Less  re- 
ligious, naturally,  than  Gideon  ;  intolerant  from  his  very  boy- 
hood of  everything  like  superstition  ;  demanding  always  of 
his  fellow  the  reason  for  his  faith  ;  more  retiring,  more  sen- 
sitive, and  less  communicative,  while  respected  and  admired 
by  all  who  knew  him,  he  was,  always,  less  a  favorite,  gener- 
ally, than  his  brother. 

John,  the  child  of  the  advanced  years  of  his  parents,  was 
in  his  fourth  year  when  they  died.  However  affectionately 
treated  by  his  father,  he  was  too  young  for  any  attempt  to 
be  made  at  his  education.  His  mother  was  so  situated  as  to 
.make  it  necessary  that  care  and  attention  be  given  him  con- 
stantly by  a  nurse.  From  his  birth  he  was  committed  to 
the  care  of  a  slave  woman,  Lucky.  When  his  father  died 
and  was  buried,  this  woman  carried  him  to  the  funeral  and 
the  grave.  When  his  mother  was  dying,  she  bore  him  to 
her  bedside,  that  the  dying  mother  might  give  her  child  her 
parting  caresses  with  her  lasting  benediction.  And,  when 
his  mother  was  buried,  it  was  this  woman  who  took  him 
to  her  funeral  and  grave,  and  soothed  and  solaced  his  agi- 
tated, aching  little  heart  with  sweet,  gentle,  affectionate 
caresses. 


CHAPTER  II. 

THE   SAD   SEPARATION   AND   DEPARTURE   FOR   OHIO. 

HOW  many  changes  depend  on  death  !  The  moral  and 
legal  changes  which  it  works  are  often  as  marvellous  and 
surprising  as  the  physical !  Through  its  agency  one  goes  to 
his  long  home,  and  his  endless  sleep  !  Another  is  called  to 
that  condition  of  active  life  thereby,  in  society,  sometimes 
in  wealth,  often  in  responsibility,  which  tests  all  his  powers, 
and  makes,  or  shipwrecks,  his  future. 

The  time  had  come  when,  through  the  death  of  Captain 
Ralph  Quarles,  everybody  upon  his  plantation,  his  children 
and  all  his  slaves,  had  not  only  to  change  their  situation, 
but  most  of  them  to  experience  a  long  and  final  separation. 
Property  of  whatever  character,  as  enjoined  by  the  law,  or 
directed  by  the  provisions  of  his  last  will  and  testament, 
might  be  distributed  and  settled  upon  those  in  interest  with- 
out difficulty,  or  moral  shock.  The  land  even,  which  com- 
posed the  plantation,  which  had  been  for  so  many  years  the 
home  of  all  now  grief-stricken  and  full  of  anxiety  and  solici- 
tude for  their  future,  might  pass  without  legal  jar  by  devise 
to  those  who  were  fortunate  enough  to  have  won  the  con- 
sideration of  a  generous  testator.  All  his  property,  personal 
or  real,  must  now  pass,  in  accordance  with  lawful  or  testa- 
mentary regulation,  to  those  who,  in  such  regard,  might  be 
esteemed  representatives  of  the  dead. 

It  is  easier  much  to  mark  divisions  in  ownership  of  prop- 
erty and  alien  title  and  possession  thereto,  than  to  sepa- 

23 


24         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

rate  even  in  prospect  of  a  more  fortunate  position  in  life, 
those  who  have,  in  constant,  intimate,  friendly  association, 
spent' their  days  together,  giving  one  another  those  evi- 
dences of  sympathy  and  kindly  affection,  which  win  and  hole 
the  heart  of  man  to  his  fellow. 

Any  slaves  disposed  of,   in  this  case,  must   go   now  t 
those  to  whom  given.     Any  of  the  same  class  emancipated, 
must  seek   by  independent  individual    effort,  in    freedom, 
their  living  and  support.     At  all  events,  the  time  had  come 
for  each  and  all  upon  this  plantation  to  say  good-bye  and 
farewell,  the  one  to  the  other.     A  separation,  under  such  *. 
circumstances,  certainly  has  features  that   are  sad  enough 
to  those  who  had  lived  so  long  together  and  so  agreeably, 
even  though  most  of  them  had  been  held  as  property  and 
inured  to  daily  tasks,  often  heavy  and  trying.     Even  those 
who  had  been  given  their  freedom  found  it  hard  to  leave 
any  of     their  old   comrades,   especially   as   they   were   to 
remain  in  slavery.     Certainly,  those  allotted  to  such  condi- 
'tion,  could  experience  no  feelings  of  satisfaction  and  pleas- 
ure, or  resignation  of  soul,  even  in  a  separation  which  might 
send  any  of  their  former  associates  into  such  liberty  as  they 
might  enjoy  in  a  free  State  of  the  North.     The  scene  of 
grief  and  sorrow  produced  by  the  separation  here  described, 
as  the  same  appears  now,  in  memory,  to  one,  then  but  a 
child,  who  witnessed  it,  was  sad  and  affecting  beyond  hu- 
man endurance ;  and  anyone  who  was  witness  to  it  may 
never  lose  the  effect  produced  upon  his  heart. 

The  last  will  and  testament  of  Captain  Quarles,  in  accord- 
ance with  whose  provisions,  he  ordered  the  distribution  of 
his  estate,  including  all  slaves,  stocks,  and  cash,  was  made 
by  himself,  as  he  declares,  upon  due  reflection  and  without 
the  least  undue  influence.  It  is  a  remarkable  paper,  and 
when  understood  in  the  light  of  the  circumstances  which 
surrounded  the  testator  when  published,  must  be  regarded 
as  one  noted  for  its  wisdom  and  sagacity.  In  order  to  the 
accomplishment  of  his  purposes  with  respect  to  his  children, 
it  was  necessary  for  him  to  exercise  here  the  largest  care 
and  caution  ;  and  yet  his  will  must  be  considered  as  express- 


THE  SAD  SEPARATION.  25 

ive  in  important  senses,  beyond  doubt,  of  the  peculiar  views 
and  maxims  which  had  governed  his  life. 

That  which  occupied  the  chief  purpose  of  his  mind,  fill- 
ing the  largest  place  in  his  heart,  commanding  his  attention 
first  of  all,  in  making  it,  was  how  he  could  most  effectively 
and  certainly  provide  for  his  sons.  Though  partially 
colored,  and  the  children  of  a  woman  whom  he  had  owned 
and  set  free,  he  made  them  his  principal  legatees,  giving 
them  in  large  measure  his  real  and  personal  property. 
Distribution  of  portions  of  his  estate  was  so  made  to  near 
kinsmen,  and  in  such  character  and  quantity,  as  to  prevent 
attempt  to  set  aside  his  will  and  nullify  his  purposes  with 
respect  to  his  children.  Could  he  have  done  so  safely,  he 
would  have,  doubtless,  through  bequest  and  devise, 
bestowed  upon  them,  large  and  valuable  as  it  was,  his  entire 
estate,  except  his  slaves.  So  far  as  the  slaves  were  con- 
cerned, could  he  have  followed  his  desires  and  convictions, 
he  would  have  emancipated  every  one  of  them.  He  feared, 
however,  that  should  he  attempt  such  settlement  of  his 
property  and  the  freedom  of  his  slaves,  all  his  purposes,  in 
such  regard,  would  have  been  defeated.  According  to  his 
best  understanding,  he  distributed  his  property,  including 
his  children  as  specially  interested,  as  already  shown ; 
and  went  so  far  as  to  emancipate  several  of  the  principal 
and  most  valuable  of  the  slaves  described  in  his  will.  The 
language  used  by  him  in  that  section  of  the  will,  which  re- 
spects the  liberation  of  such  slaves,  is  very  remarkable.  It 
reads : 

"  I  do  hereby  liberate,  manumit,  and  set  free  my  slaves,  Billy,  Burrel,  James, 
"  Jr.  and  Arthur,  and  all  other  slaves  that  I  may  have  any  right  or  title  to,  not 
"hereinbefore  particularly  disposed  of;  and  I  do  hereby  declare  the  said 
"slaves  to  be  henceforward  free  and  at  liberty  to  go  when  and  where  they 
"  please,  and  to  exercise  and  enjoy  all  the  rights  of  freedom  so  far  as  I  can 
"  authorize  or  the  laws  of  Virginia  will  permit.  And  I  do  hereby  give  to  the 
"  said  Billy  two  hundred  and  twenty  dollars  ;  and  to  the  said  Burrel,  James, 
"Jr.  and  Arthur,  I  give  each  one  hundred  and  twenty  dollars,  to  be  paid  out 
"  of  the  debts  that  I  may  have  owing  to  me  at  the  time  of  my  death." 

It  will  not  be  doubted  that  Captain  Quarles  did  all  in  his 
power,  situated  as  he  was,  to  serve  his  own  sons,  and  to 


26          FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

promote  the  welfare  of  his  servants.     In  the  appointment 
of  the  executors  of  his  estate,  it  is  a  fact,  that  he  chose  four 
of  the  wealthiest  and  most  influential  men  of  his  county  ; 
all  slave-holders  to  be  sure,  but    persons  well  known  and 
deservedly  esteemed.     One  of  them,  Col.  William  D.  Gooch, 
did  not  qualify  and  serve  in  such  capacity,  though  a  special 
personal    friend  of    the    testator,  whose    advice  was   often 
sought  in  matters  of  business,  and  upon  general  subjects  of 
importance  and  interest,   and    whose  judgment  was  wont, 
always,  to  be  regarded  with  sincere  consideration  and  confi- 
dence.    Colonel  Gooch  did  not  serve  because  before  Cap- 
tain Quarles  died  he  had  concluded  to  leave  the  State   of 
Virginia,  and  having  disposed  of  his  possessions  there,  set- 
tled with    his    family  in    Chillicothe,    Ross    County,  Ohio. 
The  other  three  gentlemen,  however,  did  qualify,  and  acted 
accordingly,    as    an    item    of    the    court    record    of    Louisa 
County  will  show.     They  did  not  proceed,  however,  with- 
out giving  their  several  bonds,  which  aggregated  one  hun- 
dred and  eighty  thousand   dollars,  conditioned   that    they 
would    honestly   and    faithfully  discharge    their    duties    as 
defined  and  prescribed  in  the  last  will  and  testament  under 
which    they   had   been    appointed.        Perhaps,    if    Captain 
Quarles  had  searched  the  whole  State  of  Virginia,  he  could 
not  have  found  three  persons  who  would  have  more  impar- 
tially, and    sincerely  and  efficiently  executed  the    purposes 
and  objects  of  his  will ;  and,  in  this  connection,  it   may  not 
be    inappropriate  to  express,  even  now  and  here,  the  deep 
gratitude  which  all  concerned  ever  felt  toward  these  men, 
who  failed,  in  no  respect,  in  the  honest  and  just  discharge 
of  their  duties.     It  is  true  that  the   men  who   thus    acted 
have  been  dead  many  years  ;  and  it  is  equally  true  that  all 
those  who  were  most  directly  interested  in  their  manage- 
ment of  the  estate  upon  which  they   administered,    have, 
also,  been  buried    for   many  years  past,  save  the  one  who 
writes  these  words;  and  yet,  he,  moved  as  he  is  by  feelings 
of  obligation  himself,  would    record,  in  earnest    phrase,  the 
indebtedness  and  appreciation  of  those  who  are  no  longer 
able  to  speak  for  themselves. 


THE  SAD  SEPARATION.  27 

But  at  last  the  sad  separation  comes !  It  is  final  and 
decisive  in  the  lives  of  all  those  immediately  concerned  ! 
Jacob  and  his  wife,  Winney,  with  their  daughter,  Lucy  and 
her  children,  Lucky,  Johnson,  Martha,  Anthony,  Edward, 
Henry  and  Ann,  are  seen  busy  in  preparation  for  their  de- 
parture from  the  plantation.  They  spend  an  hour  or  such 
matter  in  gathering  together  the  remnant  of  their  little 
effects  scattered  here  and  there.  Abram  and  Lawrence  are 
employed  with  looks  and  manner,  significant  enough,  as 
they  occupy  themselves  in  like  manner  and  to  the  same 
purpose.  At  last,  these  are  all  ready  to  take  their  leave. 
Messrs.  Ralph  and  John  Quarles,  nephews  of  the  testator  to 
whom  these  slaves  had  been  given,  had  already  come  to  take 
them  to  their  own  neighboring  plantations. 

Those  who  were  making  preparation  to  leave  soon  for 
Ohio,  Gideon,  Charles,  and  John,  with  Billy,  Burrel,  James 
Jr.  and  Arthur,  appear  at  the  door  of  the  great  deserted 
mansion,  near  which  their  friends,  so  long  their  associates, 
for  whom  they  bore  such  cordial  attachment,  are  gathered, 
to  bid  them  farewell !  This  meeting  and  this  separation 
were  touching  and  pathetic  enough  !  And  it  was  not 
unnatural  that  the  white  men  present,  seeing  those  dark- 
hued  friends,  all  in  tears,  hearing  their  sighs,  and  witnessing 
other  manifestations  of  their  deep  grief,  should  turn  their 
faces  aside,  to  hide  their  own  agitated  feelings,  as  they 
themselves  were  moved  by  this  heartrending  scene  of  part- 
ing. 

Abram  and  Lawrence  go  off  in  one  direction  with  their 
new  master  to  his  plantation.  Jacob,  with  his  family,  not 
separated  as  to  a  single  member,  thank  God  !  take  up  their 
way,  under  the  guidance  of  Mr.  John  Quarles,  whom  they 
shall  thereafter  serve,  to  their  home  a  little  more  distant. 

Those  who  are  to  take  another  journey,  so  entirely  differ- 
ent— one  to  freedom  in  a  far-off  State — at  a  day  so  near  at 
hand,  watch,  in  affectionate  solicitude,  those  who  leaving 
are  soon  lost  to  sight  in  the  distance.  These  turn  in  silence, 
then,  with  heavy  hearts  to  thoughts  and  duties  which  press 
upon  them,  in  view  of  those  necessary  preparations,  incident 


28  FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

to  the  movements  which  they  must  undertake  and  accom- 
plish before  their  own  departure  from  scenes  and  surround- 
ings in  the  midst  of  which  they  were  all  born,  and  which 
becoming  familiar  and  pleasant  in  the  growing  days  of  their 
Jive's,  have  won  and  held  their  affections. 

Two  months  elapsed  in  preparation,  with  such  assistance 
as  the  executors,  Nathaniel  Mills,  David  Thomson  and 
John  Quarles,  could  give,  by  those  who  would  soon  make 
their  westward  trip. 

During  this  period,  Uncle  Billy  Quarles,  designated  in 
the  will  Billy,  the  most  aged,  the  most  largely  experienced, 
and  naturally  the  most  intelligent  of  the  company  still 
remaining  upon  the  plantation,  became  by  general  consent 
its  guardian  and  protector.  He  was  withall  a  very  religious 
man,  noted  throughout  the  neighborhood  for  his  deep  piety 
and  the  unction  with  which  he  always  expressed  himself  in 
favor  of  pure  and  undented  religion.  His  utterances 
always  discovered  his  constitutional,  positive  superstition, 
•  which  largely  influenced  and  determined  his  spiritual  faith, 
and  explained,  generally,  his  acceptance,  or  rejection,  of 
any  appearance,  fact,  or  unusual  movement  in  nature  and 
conduct.  He  was  a  staunch  believer,  also,  in  ghosts.  And 
not  unfrequently,  sounds  and  movements,  which  excited 
his  attention  and  attracted  his  interest,  were  ascribed  to 
such  agency,  at  work  for  man's  good,  as  he  would  claim,  by 
appointment  of  divine  Providence.  Had  he  not  been  thus 
superstitious,  afraid  of  ghosts,  and  easily  disturbed  by  strange 
noises  and  curious  sights,  so  commonly  found  figuring  in  the 
imagination  of  the  too  credulous  Virginia  slave  of  the  olden 
time,  he  would  have  been  by  reason  of  his  natural  endow- 
ments and  general  qualities  of  character,  with  his  experience 
and  observation,  eminently  successful  in  any  efforts  which 
he  might  have  been  called  to  make,  in  such  capacity. 

For  several  years  anterior  to  the  time  here  mentioned, 
the  neighborhood  in  which  the  plantation  spoken  of  was 
located,  was  famous  for  the  presence  of  several  remarkable 
characters,  who  had  left  certain  plantations  located  there, 
and  as  fugitive  slaves  spent  their  days  concealed  in  the 


THE  SAD  SEPARATION.  29 

adjoining  forests  ;  while,  during  the  night-season,  they  paid 
visits  to  any  negro  quarters,  and  sometimes  even  to  other 
portions  of  such  places  as  they  desired  to,  for  food  or  other 
necessary  thing.  Frequently,  by  their  presence  as  they 
first  appeared,  or  were  heard,  they  caused  great  fear  and 
trepidation  even  to  those  of  their  dusky  friends  who  knew 
them  well,  and  would  do  whatever  they  might  to  shelter 
and  sustain  them. 

The  most  noted  among  these  characters,  was  a  black 
man  of  towering  build,  strong  and  sinewy,  with  hair  and 
beard  quite  abundant  for  his  complexion,  unkempt  and 
unshaken,  who,  with  solemn  tread  and  thrilling  voice, 
periodically  leaving  his  hiding-place,  came  among  those 
who  had  known  him  from  his  very  youth.  Now,  however, 
they  had  invested  him  by  reason  of  his  wild,  mysterious, 
weird  character,  with  all  those  peculiarities  of  awe  and 
dread  calculated  to  inspire  fear  and  trembling  in  all 
those  who  might  witness  his  ghostly  and  terror-inspiring 
approach.  It  had  been  a  long  time  since  this  particular 
person  had  made  his  last  visit  ;  and  it  was  generally 
believed  that  he  had  gone  to  other  more  safe  and  agree- 
able parts.  Some  felt  that  he  had  gone  to  the  North. 
It  might  be  even  to  Canada. 

The  night  was  a  dark  one,  but  not  unpleasant  by  reason 
of  rain,  storm,  or  chill.  It  was  not  unpropitious  for  such 
visit  as  this  fugitive  slave  now  made  to  the  Great  House, 
where  were  congregated  Uncle  Billy  and  those  hoping  so 
soon  to  quit  the  plantation.  The  hour  was  early  ;  and  the 
promise  of  a  quiet  and  pleasant  night,  to  all  indoors,  was 
apparent.  James  was  the  only  one  who  proposed  to  dis- 
turb the  pleasure  of  the  company  by  absenting  himself. 
He  decided  to  visit  a  neighboring  plantation.  Against  this 
Uncle  Billy  offered  serious  objection,  urging  among  other 
things  that,  since  he  had  been  set  free  and  was  about  leav- 
ing the  country,  it  became  him,  as  it  did  all  the  others,  to 
be  exceedingly  careful  how  he  undertook  such  enterprises, 
under  the  circumstances.  James,  however,  was  persistent, 
stating  in  reply  that  he  was  well  known  to  all  persons  upon 
3 


3o         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

the  plantation  which  he  would  visit,  and  no  one  there  would 
certainly  fail  to  appreciate,  as  all  would  be  pleased,  with  his 
call.  He  had  not  more  than  passed  the  garden  gate,  when 
a  strange  unusual  rap  was  heard  at  the  door,  which  threw 
Uncle  Billy,  at  once,  into  great  perturbation  of  mind,  as 
shown  in  his  exclamation:  "There!  Somebody  is  after 
that  boy,  Jeems,  now  !  "  Agitated  as  he  was,  he  inquired  : 
"Who  is  there?"  A  stentorian,  oracular  voice  replied: 
"  Open  the  door."  Uncle  Billy  was  not  at  all  reassured  ; 
but  whispered  to  those  about  him  :  "  That  voice  is  strange, 
and  yet  it  seems  to  be  one  I  have  heard  before."  Still  the 
old  man  was  greatly  disturbed,  and  even  trembled,  as 
admission  was  demanded  again  by  the  newcomer,  at  the 
door.  Burrel,  however,  came  to  his  relief,  saying  as  he 
threw  the  door  open:  "Come  in!"  A  strange  towering 
black  figure  entering,  said  :  "  Boys,  I  have  come  for  some- 
thing to  eat ! " 

All  present,  save  John,  recognized  this  wonderful,  mys- 
terious person,  coming  from  the  wilderness,  as  one  whom 
they  had  heretofore  seen,  and  whose  presence,  and  manner, 
and  words,  were  not  wholly  unfamiliar  to  them.  They  had 
known  him  to  be  one  who  was  always  terribly  in  earnest, 
never  trifling  ;  and  while  he  found  his  home  in  the  swamps 
and  the  desert  places  of  the  neighborhood,  as  a  fugitive 
slave,  he  would  serve  no  master  other  than  the  God  who 
made  him.  Such  a  visit,  at  such  a  time,  from  such  a  per- 
son, was  to  Uncle  Billy  the  augur  of  a  prosperous  future  to 
those  who  would  go  hence  to  freedom  and  the  blessings 
which  it  might  bring.  From  this  time  forward,  through  his 
influence,  moved  as  he  was  by  the  impression  just  described, 
the  whole  company  pressed  the  preparations  for  their 
departure  with  redoubled  vigor  and  enthusiasm. 

Gideon,  who  was  a  young  man  of  real  courage  and 
business  ability,  understanding  well  what  was  to  be  done 
and  how  to  do  it,  led  and  directed  in  the  arrangement  of  all 
those  things  which  must  precede  their  departure  for  Ohio. 
First  of  all,  he  secured  authenticated  copies  of  free  papers, 
not  only  for  himself,  Charles  and  John,  but  for  the  other 


THE  SAD  SEPARATION.  31 

four  persons,  whom  he  would  conduct  safely  to  their  pro- 
spective homes  in  another  State.  He  obtained  of  the 
executors  all  the  means  necessary  for  the  journey  for  the 
entire  party ;  and  further  insisted  that  Uncle  Billy,  Burrel, 
James,  Jr.  and  Arthur,  be  paid  the  respective  amounts  due 
them  under  the  will. 

At  this  time,  no  railroads  had  been  built  in  this  section  of 
the  country,  and  no  easy,  quick,  convenient  methods  of 
travel  had  been  established  between  the  different  States 
through  which  they  must  pass.  Special  provisions  had, 
therefore,  to  be  made  for  a  trip  such  as  is  here  contem- 
plated. Conveyances  as  well  as  necessary  teams  must  be 
provided  ;  and  to  this  end  Gideon  selected  and  purchased 
for  himself  and  his  brothers  a  vehicle  in  those  days  called  a 
carry-all,  with  necessary  harness  and  horses ;  and  for  Uncle 
Billy  and  his  companions  a  light  wagon,  with  harness  and 
horses,  suited  to  their  use.  So  far  as  personal  outfits, 
clothes,  hats,  shoes,  and  other  necessary  things,  were  con- 
cerned, ample  provision  was  made. 

All  things  had  been  made  ready.  The  final  words  of 
counsel  from  the  executors,  especially  those  of  the  good 
and  excellent  Nathaniel  Mills,  had  been  spoken.  The  last 
kindly  farewells  of  a  host  of  true  friends,  white  and  colored, 
had  been  said.  And  now,  early  upon  a  bright  and  beauti- 
ful October  morning  in  1834,  just  as  the  dawn  touched  the 
eastern  sky,  these  inexperienced  wayfarers,  at  the  time 
appointed,  quitted  the  old  plantation  upon  a  journey  which 
should  prove  to  be  to  them  all  a  new  revelation.  No  one  of 
them  had  ever  gone  beyond  the  neighborhood,  except 
Uncle  Billy,  who  had  gone  once  or  twice  to  Richmond,  with 
the  wagon,  to  carry  tobacco  and  wheat.  The  road  over 
which  they  were  to  journey  was  beset  with  inconveniences 
and  difficulties.  Besides  being  mountainous  and  rugged,  it 
lay  across  a  country  largely  without  comfortable  and 
accommodating  stopping-places  for  travellers  situated  as 
these  were.  It  was  distinguished  as  well  for  the  number  of 
small  streams,  easily  swollen  by  too  frequent  rains,  which 
they  must  ford,  however  dangerous  to  strangers  ;  and  rivers 


32         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

which  could  only  be  crossed  by  ferries,  with  appliances  of 
the  crudest  character. 

They  contemplated  their  situation,  however,  with  real 
courage,  and  entered  upon  their  journey  with  true  spirit 
and  purpose.  Some  anxiety  was  provoked,  in  view  of  the 
tender  age  and  rather  feeble  constitution  of  John,  then 
a  child  in  his  fourth  year  only.  It  was  feared,  especially  by 
Uncle  Billy,  that  he  could  not  stand  such  a  hard  and  fatiguing 
trip.  Gideon  soon  quieted  such  apprehensions  by  assuring 
everyone  that  he  could  and  would  take  due  care  of  his 
young  and  delicate  brother. 

They  had  journeyed  on  without  special  noteworthy 
incident  for  several  days,  until  they  had  reached  the  foot  of 
the  Allegheny  Mountains,  pressing  on  to  the  north  and 
westward.  They  had  driven  on,  gradually,  day  by  day, 
pitching  their  tents  and  camping  out  by  night,  feeding  and 
caring  tor  the  teams  as  thoroughly  as  they  might ;  eating 
cold  food,  with  warm  drinks  of  tea  and  coffee,  themselves, 
according  to  such  supply  as  they  had  on  hand.  The  sun 
had  just  gone  down,  on  the  evening  of  the  first  week  after 
they  had  left  Louisa  Court  House.  They  had  just  unhitched 
and  unharnessed  the  teams  ;  some  were  engaged  in  pitching 
the  tents,  while  others  went  to  the  limpid  mountain  stream 
near  at  hand,  to  bring  water  for  men  and  beasts;  when  a 
man  on  horseback,  with  saddlebags,  attired  as  a  traveller, 
was  seen  coming  down  the  highway. 

As  this  man  came  in  sight,  Gideon  advanced  upon  him 
promptly,  as  if  he  recognized  him,  which  was  in  fact  the 
case.  He  addressed  him  in  tender  affectionate  words,  dis- 
playing the  most  cordial  conduct  towards  him  ;  when  all 
joined  in  giving  the  stranger  a  warm  and  hearty  welcome. 
This  person  was  one  possessing  large  conversational  power, 
well  informed  and  entertaining.  The  night  was  far  spent, 
the  moon  had  reached  well-nigh  its  setting,  before  he  had 
finished  his  interesting  conversation  to  the  tired  travellers 
— old  friends  in  fact  of  his,  who  composed  his  auditors.  He 
told  much  of  his  home  in  Ohio :  how  he  lived,  and  what  he 
did  there  ;  hotr  he  was  treated  by  all  classes  ;  when  he  left 


THE  SAD  SEPARATION.  33 

home,  and  what  his  experience  had  been  as  he  journeyed 
alone  southward  to  meet  those  who  were  now  made  so  happy 
by  his  presence  and  his  prospective  assistance.  He  had  left 
the  town  in  Ohio,  to  which  these  friends  and  relatives  of 
his  were  wending  their  way,  upon  the  same  day,  as  he  sup- 
posed, that  they  had  left  Louisa  Court  House  ;  and  had 
expected  to  meet  them  sooner ;  and,  if  possible,  so  near 
their  starting-point,  as  to  make  it  practicable  for  him  to 
hurry  on  even  so  far ;  spend  there  at  least  one  day,  and 
pressing  his  horse  and  himself  in  his  return,  overtake  them 
within  fifty  miles,  certainly,  westward  of  the  spot  where  this 
agreeable  meeting  occurred.  Now,  however,  he  concluded 
to  go  no  further ;  but  returning  at  once,  direct  and  guide 
those  who  must  travel  the  road  over  which  he  had  just 
passed. 

He  had  known  all  the  persons  in  this  company  of  travel- 
lers well,  before  he  met  them  here,  except  the  boy  John,  to 
whom  he  seemed  drawn  at  once,  and  whom  he  constantly 
caressed  with  warm  and  deep  affection.  He  seemed  glad  to 
hold  and  fondle  him.  At  one  time,  he  would  declare  that 
the  child  was  the  very  picture  of  his  mother;  at  another, 
that  he  was  the  very  image  of  his  father.  From  day  to 
day,  however,  his  affection  as  his  interest  in  and  for  the  boy 
seemed  to  grow  and  deepen,  being  manifested,  continually, 
by  loving  and  tender  treatment.  Finally,  as  an  expression 
of  his  love  for  him,  having  arranged  the  stirrup-leathers  of 
his  saddle  to  fit  his  little  legs  and  feet,  he  gave  him,  as  he 
said,  his  horse,  saddle  and  bridle.  While  he  directed  the 
horse,  with  the  greatest  care,  he  placed  the  child  in  the  sad- 
dle to  ride,  and  held  him  there  to  his  great  delight  and  sat- 
isfaction. Such  treatment  he  accorded  him,  daily,  to  the 
very  end  of  the  journey  ;  and,  in  a  thousand  other  ways,  he 
manifested  his  attachment  to  him,  and  won  thereby  his 
fond  confidence. 

This  man,  whose  name  we  have  not  yet  given,  was  Wil- 
liam Langston,  the  eldest  of  the  three  first  children — one 
son  and  two  daughters — born  to  Lucy  Langston,  before  she 
was  taken  from  the  plantation  into  the  Great  House,  made 


34          FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

housekeeper,  and,  finally,  became  the  mother  of  the  three 
sons  of  Captain  Quarles  heretofore  mentioned  and  described. 
He  was  the  half-brother,  on  the  mother's  side,  to  Gideon, 
Charles  and  John. 

In  this  solitary  place,  at  the  foot  of  the  mountains,  for 
the  first  time  William  met  his  half-brother  John,  whom  he 
had  never  seen ;  for,  years  before  his  birth,  he,  with  Mary 
and  Harriett,  his  sisters,  had  been  emancipated  by  Captain 
Quarles  and  sent  to  Ohio.  The  sisters,  constitutionally 
feeble,  not  standing  the  severe  cold  climate  of  the  North, 
did  not  live  many  years  after  their  settlement  in  that  State. 
The  brother,  however,  found  himself  very  much  at  home 
there,  and  pursuing  his  trade  as  a  carpenter  and  joiner,  be- 
came permanently  located  at  Chillicothe,  in  Ross  County  ; 
and,  at  this  time,  led  a  most  respected  and  prosperous  life. 
Having  passed  over  the  road  which  was  now  being  travelled 
by  those  whom  he  sought  to  aid,  he  was  well  prepared  to 
give  them  valuable  assistance.  This  he  did  ;  and  by  his 
presence  and  guidance  contributed  not  a  little  to  relieve 
them  of  much  of  the  tediousness  and  fatigue  of  their  journey. 

Pushing  on,  it  was  not  long  before  the  party  reached  and 
crossed  by  ferry  the  Kanawa  river.  Holding  steadily  on 
their  way,  shortly  thereafter  they  came  in  sight  of  the 
great  Ohio  ;  and  coming  upon  its  banks  opposite  the  town 
of  Gallipolis,  they  were  at  once  set  across  in  the  same 
manner,  creating,  as  they  landed  in  this  first  town  of  Ohio, 
as  they  had  done  in  several  small  ones  through  which  they 
had  passed  in  the  State  of  Virginia,  no  little  interest  and 
concern  among  its  people. 

All  seemed  anxious  at  first  to  know  who  they  were; 
where  they  were  going;  what  they  were  going  to  do; 
whether  they  were  really  free  ;  or  whether  Gideon  was  not  a 
white  man  and  the  owner  of  them  all.  Any  one  save  the 
child  of  the  party  was  able  to  answer  all  such  questions  to 
the  satisfaction  of  any  intelligent  person  ;  while  William 
kept  all  in  good  courage  by  his  stout  assurances,  that  these 
were  good  people— inquisitive  to  be  sure,  but  that  they 
meant  and  would  do  them  no  harm. 


THE  SAD  SEPARATION.  35 

Tarrying  in  Gallipolis  for  a  single  night  only,  they 
pushed  on  through  Gallia  and  Jackson  Counties,  reaching  a 
small  negro  settlement  near  Berlin  Cross-roads,  about 
noon  on  the  third  day  after  leaving  that  town.  Here 
Uncle  Billy,  Burrel,  James,  Jr.,  and  Arthur  concluded  to 
end  their  journey  and  settle  in  new  homes.  So  they  did. 
They  had  been  careful  in  the  use  of  their  means  and  were 
able  to  buy  small  pieces  of  land,  cheap  as  it  was  at  that 
time  and  in  that  neighborhood,  upon  which  they  might 
respectively  locate,  and  by  their  industry  and  accustomed 
frugality  live  in  reasonable  comfort. 

Their  numbers  thus  reduced,  the  other  persons  compos- 
ing the  party,  with  William  still  accompanying  them,  hav- 
ing in  viexv  now  only  their  own  destination  and  settlement, 
within  the  next  two  days  found  themselves  in  their  bat- 
tered and  worn  carry-all,  with  horses  reduced  in  flesh — all, 
persons,  animals  and  conveyance  bearing  a  wretched  and 
forlorn  appearance — entering  the  famous,  beautiful  city  of 
Chillicothe,  once  the  capital  of  the  State  of  Ohio. 

The  excitement  produced  by  the  arrival  of  these  strangers 
ran  high.  The  inhabitants  of  this  city  as  well  as  those  of 
the  neighboring  country  were,  for  the  most  part,  Virginians. 
Many  of  the  families  located  here  were  composed  of  per- 
sons who  had  known  these  new-comers  as  they  were  sit- 
uated and  lived  in  Louisa  County.  Their  arrival  had  been 
expected  by  many  of  such  persons,  who  hoped  to  receive 
through  them  direct  and  reliable  news  from  friends  and 
relatives  who  still  resided  in  the  state  of  their  birth,  and  in 
the  county  from  which  the  Langstons  had  just  come. 
They  were,  therefore,  quickly  surrounded  by  representa- 
tives of  such  families ;  and  upon  the  streets,  even  before 
they  had  been  able  to  locate  themselves,  were  plied  with 
questions,  which  discovered  the  anxiety  and  interest  of 
those  seeking  tidings,  in  this  way,  from  those  whom  they 
loved,  and  in  whose  welfare  they  cultivated  constantly  the 
deepest  concern.  All.  such  inquiries  were  answered  as 
made ;  sometimes  briefly  and  in  haste,  but  at  all  times  with 
becoming  respect  and  consideration.  It  is  true,  that  such 


36          FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

was  the  behavior  of  Gideon  and  Charles,  in  such  respects, 
that  they  won  at  once  marked  attention  and  favor  from 
those  who  questioned  them. 

Gideon  and  Charles,  by  the  assistance  and  guidance  of 
William,  soon  found  comfortable  stopping-places  for  them- 
selves and  their  team  ;  while  John  was  carried  directly  to 
the  house  of  Col.  William  D.  Gooch,  who  had  promised  his 
father  before  his  death,  at  his  own  home  in  Virginia,  that 
when  sent  to  Ohio,  he  would  take,  care  for,  and  educate 
him. 


CHAPTER  III. 

COL.    WILLIAM   D.    GOOCH    AND   FAMILY. 

THE  family  of  Colonel  Gooch  consisted  of  himself,  his  wife 
and  three  daughters.  Their  residence,  at  the  time  John 
was  taken  into  the  household,  was  situated  on  the  outskirts 
of  the  city  of  Chillicothe,  to  the  southeastward,  near  Paint 
Creek  ;  and  the  house  which  they  occupied  was  peculiar  for 
the  place,  as  it  was  built  of  stone.  Not  long  after  John's 
advent,  the  colonel  bought  a  large  and  valuable  farm,  one 
mile  below  the  town,  in  the  most  fertile  part  of  the  Scioto 
Valley,  upon  the  Ohio  Canal,  then  the  chief  public  thorough- 
fare of  the  State,  running  from  Cleveland  upon  Lake  Erie  to 
Portsmouth  on  the  Ohio  river. 

The  home  of  this  family  was,  in  all  respects,  a  model  one. 
The  parents  and  children  were  persons  of  remarkable  quali- 
ties of  character,  possessing  and  cultivating  such  amiability 
of  disposition,  evenness  of  temper,  and  considerate  regard 
for  others  and  their  happiness,  as  to  win  and  hold  every 
one's  admiration  and  esteem. 

Colonel  Gooch  himself,  in  personal  appearance  and  bear- 
ing impressed  one  directly  with  the  exalted  chivalrous 
manhood  which  he  possessed.  In  bodily  build  and  develop- 
ment he  was  a  prince,  discovering  in  his  fine  head,  pleasant 
face,  full  blue  eyes,  and  well-formed  nose,  mouth,  and  chin, 
as  well  as  the  luminous  display  of  conscious  rectitude  and 
strength  found  always  in  his  generous  countenance,  that  he 
was  one  who  could,  indeed,  be  trusted  as  husband,  father 

37 


38         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

and  friend.  There  was  no  responsibility  and  no  risk,  which 
he  was  not  ready  to  meet,  to  promote,  defend,  and  protect 
all  the  interests  committed  to  his  care  and  keeping  in  such 
relations.  At  times,  especially  under  circumstances  which 
required  of  him  earnest  and  deep  reflection,  he  seemed  stern  ; 
and  yet,  he  was  possessed  of  a  sensibility  as  tender  as  pos- 
sible, responsive,  ever,  to  human  necessity  and  trial. 

Mrs.  Gooch  was  a  woman,  wife  and  mother  of  rare 
elements  of  disposition  and  wisdom.  Small  of  stature,  but 
possessing  great  natural  strength  and  endurance,  she  was 
constantly  and  judiciously  engaged  in  cares  and  duties  con- 
nected with  her  family  and  household.  She  neglected  no 
obligation  to  her  husband,  or  her  children;  nor  did  she 
hesitate,  or  fail,  in  respect  to  any  courtesy,  or  service,  how- 
ever disagreeable,  due  from  her  to  anyone.  Her  spirit  and 
temper,  in  this  last  particular,  were  strikingly  manifested  in 
her  reception  and  treatment  of  the  new-comer  to  her  home 
and  care.  It  is  not  difficult  to  understand  what  must  have 
been  the  condition  of  John,  in  person  and  clothing,  neglected 
as  he  had  been,  in  fact,  for  months,  before  he  left  the  planta- 
tion in  Virginia,  and,  then,  directly  thereafter  spending  all 
of  three  full  weeks  upon  the  road,  in  camp  at  night,  and  in 
carry-all  by  day.  His  male  relatives  and  friends,  who  never 
so  anxious  to  serve  him,  neither  possessed  the  knowledge 
nor  the  patience  necessary  to  the  proper  care  of  one  so 
young.  It  is  true  that  his  brothers  and  friends  did  all  that 
they  could  for  him.  But,  at  his  age,  and  in  his  situation,  he 
needed,  daily,  if  not  the  attention  of  an  intelligent  mother, 
that  of  a  judicious  and  painstaking  nurse.  At  a  glance, 
Mrs.  Gooch  saw  his  plight ;  and  though  the  task  of  renovat- 
ing his  condition  was  truly  a  trying  and  unpleasant  one,  she 
displayed,  in  view  of  it,  no  evidences  of  hesitation  or  dread. 
So  far  from  this,  in  less  than  two  hours  after  arrival  and 
welcome  to  the  house,  he  had  been  thoroughly  cleansed  in 
person,  changed  in  clothing,  and  given  his  seat  by  her  own 
side  at  the  table  about  which  all  gathered  for  supper.  The 
various  members  of  the  family  plied  the  boy  with  questions 
suited  to  his  age.  calculated- to  inspire  him  with  feelings  of 


COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  FAMILY.  39 

contentment  and  satisfaction,  manifesting  in  every  word  and 
act  of  theirs  the  deepest  interest  in  him. 

Mrs.  Gooch  at  once  became  his  mother  to  all  intents 
and  purposes  ;  and  during  his  residence  in  her  family,  in 
health  or  sickness,  treated  him  in  an  endearing,  affectionate 
manner.  She  won  completely  his  confidence  and  fondness. 
It  is  true  that  John  never  loved  anyone,  as  mother  and  pa- 
rent, as  he  did,  finally,  this  worthy  woman,  behind  whose 
apron  he  felt,  as  against  the  whole  world  beside,  that  he 
was  in  a  walled  town.  Such  was  the  care  given  him  in 
every  way,  that  he  soon  became  well  known  among  the 
friends  of  the  family  throughout  the  community.  And,  by 
reason  of  such  constant  considerate  treatment  as  the  whole 
family  accorded  him,  he  lost  measurably  his  own  name  in 
another  given  him,  and  by  which  he  was  usually  called — 
Johnnie  Gooch. 

The  daughters  of  the  family  were  young  ladies  of  such 
culture,  beauty  and  influence,  so  esteemed  in  the  com- 
munity, as  to  command  the  special  attention  of  the  high- 
est and  best  elements  of  social  life.  The  two  elder  were  so 
far  advanced  in  age,  and  were  of  such  attractive  and  pleas- 
ing person  and  character,  that  within  the  first  two  years 
after  his  adoption  into  the  family,  John  witnessed  their 
marriage  to  two  foremost  business  gentlemen  of  Chillicothe, 
Messrs.  Fisher  and  Eggleston.  Immediately,  they  left  their 
parents,  and  entered  upon  earnest  substantial  life  in  their 
own  homes. 

Virginia,  the  youngest  daughter,  born  in  the  State  after 
which  she  was  named,  was  in  personal  appearance  and  be- 
havior the  very  likeness  of  her  father,  modified  only  by 
her  charming  womanhood  ;  while  in  disposition  and  temper 
she  reflected  the  best  possible  image  of  her  mother.  At 
this  time,  she  was  a  pupil  of  the  then  famous  and  flourish- 
ing Young  Ladies'  Seminary  of  the  city  of  Chillicothe. 
Her  conduct  and  record,  as  such  student,  attested  the  so- 
briety of  her  disposition  and  her  exalted  mental  endow- 
ments. While  apt  and  ready,  as  a  scholar,  she  possessed, 
naturally,  such  diligence  and  application  as  to  master  and 


40         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

retain  in  her  vigorous  memory,  the  most  difficult  and  intri- 
cate things  of  learning,  with  the  greatest  apparent  ease. 
Her  love  of  books  was  very  great  and  unusual ;  and  she 
never  seemed  to  be  really  so  happy  as  when  engaged  in 
their  study. 

Within  a  very  few  days  after  John  became  a  member  of 
the  family,  Virginia  was  directed  by  her  parents  to  instruct 
him,  according  to  his  tender  ability  and  understanding. 
Upon  this  duty  she  entered  with  such  enthusiasm,  diligence 
and  wisdom,  as  to  advance  the  boy,  by  means  of  her  oral  in- 
structions, rapidly  ;  not  only  in  improved  conditions  of  speech 
and  manners,  but  so  as  to  impart  a  reasonable  knowledge, 
under  the  circumstances,  of  many  of  the  elementary  things 
of  learning.  Under  her  tuition  and  management,  always 
so  patient  and  tender,  John's  progress  was  so  commendable 
that  not  infrequently  Colonel  Gooch  and  his  wife  applauded 
him,  in  view  of  his  success,  while  they  praised  and  encour- 
aged their  daughter  for  her  good  work  done  in  his  interest. 

In  such  happy  circumstances,  with  a  guardian  entirely 
considerate  of  his  welfare  in  person  and  property,  becoming 
to  him  indeed  a  father,  full  of  solicitude  and  affection  ;  tak- 
ing him  into  his  own  family,  where  he  found  in  Mrs.  Gooch 
all  that  he  needed  in  a  kind  and  gentle  mother,  and  in  Vir- 
ginia all  that  he  might  hope  to  find  in  a  devoted  sister  and 
teacher,  John  spent  the  early  happy  days  of  his  life  in  the 
charming  home  of  his  father's  true  and  faithful  friend. 

In  his  last  conversation  had  with  Captain  Quarles,  just 
before  he  left  Virginia  for  Ohio,  Colonel  Gooch  had  dis- 
closed to  him  the  earnest  purpose  of  his  friend  to  provide 
more  thoroughly  for  the  education  of  his  three  sons,  by  set- 
tling upon  them  a  reasonable  part  of  his  estate ;  and  by 
sending  them  to  a  free  State,  where  he  was  assured  they 
could  gain  public  educational  advantages,  and  secure  such 
academic  and  collegiate  opportunities  as  they  might  desire. 
Captain  Quarles  insisted  that  it  was  his  desire,  as  it  was 
his  purpose,  to  have  them  so  advanced  and  improved  by 
study  and  learning,  as  to  make  them  useful,  influential 
members  of  society.  In  this  conversation,  he  advised  Col- 


COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  FAMILY.  41 

onel  Gooch,  with  earnestness,  and  emphasis,  of  his  anxieties 
and  desires  with  respect  to  his  son  John.  He  had  not 
been  able  himself  to  give  him  a  single  lesson,  nor  to  make 
upon  his  mind  a  single  educational  impression.  With  press- 
ing solicitude,  he  dwelt  to  Colonel  Gooch  upon  his  wish  that 
he  would  take  John  upon  his  being  sent  to  Ohio,  and  while 
acting  as  the  guardian  of  his  person  and  property,  look  well 
and  diligently  to  his  education.  Upon  this  last,  and  seem- 
ingly most  important  matter  to  Captain  Quarles,  Colonel 
Gooch  gave  his  hearty  and  sincere  promise  that  he  would 
spare  no  pains,  no  effort  and  no  reasonable  outlay,  to 
accomplish  in  the  case  of  this  boy  what  his  anxious  parent 
requested. 

It  was  in  keeping  with  such  engagement,  that  the  boy 
John  was  received  at  the  house  and  home  of  Colonel  Gooch, 
and  was  directed  and  taught  in  all  those  elementary 
branches  of  study  which  proved  to  be  so  beneficial  to  him. 
And  opportunities  of  social  advancement  and  improvement 
were  for  like  reason  accorded  him  ever,  in  Colonel  Gooch's 
own  family  and  among  his  own  wealthy  and  cultured  asso- 
ciates and  friends.  Colonel  Gooch  meant  to  keep  to  the 
letter,  in  its  broadest  sense,  the  obligation  which  he  had 
assumed  with  respect  to  the  care,  education  and  culture  of 
this  boy.  And  the  sequel  will  show  even  more  fully  how 
his  purpose,  in  such  behalf,  was  firm  and  decided. 

John  spent  during  his  stay  in  the  Gooch  family,  the  prin- 
cipal part  of  his  time  at  their  beautiful  home  upon  the 
canal.  To  this  place  the  family  had  moved  after  he  joined 
it ;  and  it  was  the  scene  of  his  chief  doings,  while  a  member 
of  the  household.  After  the  family  had  become  located 
there  he  seemed  to  settle  down  to  real  permanent  earn- 
est life  and  duty.  He  acted  as  if  he  had  in  prospect  a 
future,  apparently  as  propitious  and  happy  as  the  son  of 
any  home  could  have  sought  or  desired.  Every  want  and 
whim  of  his  was  noted  and  answered  ;  and  every  attention 
given  to  his  general  nurture  and  admonition.  No  one  tired 
of  effort  in  his  interest  ;  and  as  he  grew  in  years  and 
knowledge,  new  plans  and  endeavors  were  adopted  and 


42         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

made  to  render  him,  if  possible,  more  satisfied  and  con- 
tented. His  cup  of  happiness  seemed  to  be  ever  enlarging 
itself,  and  filled  to  its  brim.  His  recognition  and  treatment 
by  the  colonel  and  Mrs.  Gooch  were  of  the  most  fatherly 
and  motherly  character.  In  his  presence  and  society,  as 
they  seemed  to  feel,  the  boy  met  a  want  in  the  household. 
Among  their  children,  these  aged  parents  had  not  num- 
bered a  son  ;  and  now  this  lad  had  become  a  veritable 
scion  of  their  affection  and  family. 

Located  upon  a  farm  of  such  dimensions  and  value,  with 
such  appointments  and  service  as  seemed  to  be  indispens- 
able, the  situation  of  this  family  became  as  conspicuous  as 
it  was  convenient  and  agreeable.  It  did  not  fail  to  excite 
comment,  in  connection  with  close  observation  of  the  acts 
of  its  members  and  inmates,  comment  which  was  often  of 
unhandsome  and  unkind  character.  One  inquired,  Where 
did  Gooch  get  the  money  to  make  this  purchase  and  estab- 
lish such  a  home?  Another  ventured  the  opinion  that  it 
.came  through  the  Langston  boys,  whose  Virginia  father,  as 
he  said,  had  made  them  wealthy.  For  two  of  them,  as  this 
person  claimed,  Colonel  Gooch  was  a  retained  agent  ;  and 
for  the  third  and  youngest,  the  duly  appointed  guardian  of 
person  and  property.  And,  hence,  allowed  a  third  wiseacre, 
he  treats  his  ward  as  a  very  son.  Like  a  true  and  brave 
man,  Colonel  Gooch  paid  no  attention  to  such  absurd  specu- 
lations ;  and  the  family  grew  day  by  day  more  and  more 
respected,  honored,  and  influential.  Not  a  single  change 
was  made  in  the  treatment  of  John,  except  as  already  stated, 
it  became  constantly  more  cordial  and  pronounced,  at  home 
and  abroad. 

Time  had  passed  so  rapidly,  in  the  midst  of  such  con- 
genial, interesting,  busy  and  fortunate  circumstances,  that 
John  had  already  reached  and  entered  upon  his  eighth  year. 
At  this  juncture,  the  question  of  starting  him  to  school 
regularly  was  discussed.  The  distance,  quite  a  mile  and  a 
half,  which  he  must  walk  morning  and  evening  daily,  con- 
stituted a  very  serious  objection,  as  urged  by  Mrs.  Gooch, 
in  view  of  his  age,  size,  and  inexperience  in  self-manage- 


COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  FAMILY.  43 

ment.  And  this  objection  was  urged  so  stoutly  by  her,  and 
sustained  by  Virginia,  that  he  was  not  put  to  school  for  all 
of  three  months  after  the  first  consideration  of  the  subject. 
Finally,  Colonel  Gooch  decided  to  enter  him  as  a  pupil  of 
the  public  school,  and  took  the  necessary  steps  to  that  end. 

His  regular  training  by  his  first,  his  best,  and  truest 
teacher,  was  to  be  interrupted.  She  had  taken  him  well  on 
in  the  easy  primary  lessons  of  spelling,  reading,  geography, 
and  arithmetic,  with  simple  instruction  in  printing  and  writ- 
ing the  English  alphabet ;  and  had  taught  him  how  to 
recite,  with  comparative  childish  effect,  portions  of  the  Ser- 
mon on  the  Mount,  as  well  as  other  special  selections  of 
the  Bible.  She  would,  however,  still  give  him  such  general, 
weekly  attention,  especially  as  respected  his  manners  and 
behavior,  as  might  be  required. 

It  was  upon  a  beautiful  Monday  morning,  early  in  1837, 
that  Colonel  Gooch,  with  John  by  his  side,  left  home  and 
other  engagements,  to  put  the  lad  at  school.  The  novelty 
of  the  enterprise  and  the  interest  which  it  excited,  made 
it  very  agreeable  to  the  one  to  be  most  deeply  affected. 
With  his  little  new  dinner  bucket,  so  clean  and  bright,  full 
of  nice  things  for  his  lunch,  in  one  hand,  and  his  books  in 
the  other,  he  moved  off,  in  his  neat,  trim  dress  of  round- 
about and  pants  of  Kentucky  blue  jeans,  with  stylish,  fash- 
ionable cap  and  shoes,  in  cheerful  spirits,  to  the  experience 
awaiting  him,  which  might  make,  or  destroy  all  his  hopes. 
For  school  experiences  often  handicap  and  ruin  even  prom- 
ising children,  boys  and  girls. 

The  distance  from  home  to  the  schoolhouse  seemed  short, 
and  Colonel  Gooch  with  his  charge  soon  stood  confronting 
the  stern  but  learned  principal,  with  whom  he  made  quick 
arrangements  for  John's  entry  of  the  school.  This  school 
was  composed  of  two  departments  ;  one  for  the  larger  and 
more  advanced  scholars,  and  the  other  for  the  pupils  who 
were  generally  small  and  of  the  juvenile  classes.  To  one 
of  the  more  advanced  classes  of  the  latter  department  the 
boy  was  assigned  and  given  in  charge  of  a  very  attentive, 
kind-hearted,  affectionate  teacher,  Miss  Annie  Colburn. 


44          FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Her  pupils  occupied  the  gallery  of  the  Methodist  Church, 
in  which  in  the  absence  of  a  school  building,  school  was 
kept.  The  seats  used  were  made  of  slabs,  supported  upon 
long  round  shaven  legs  at  either  end  and  in  the  center, 
without  rest  of  any  sort  for  the  back.  Nor  were  desks  of 
any  kind  furnished.  For  six  hours  daily,  however,  with  a 
brief  intermission  at  noon,  the  pupils  of  this  department 
were  supposed  to  be  engaged  in  school  duty.  Here  was  a 
new  and  trying  experience  to  John,  reared  tenderly  and  in 
comfortable  conditions  as  he  had  been. 

As  he  sat  upon  his  seat,  his  little  legs  so  short  that  his 
feet  did  not  touch  the  floor,  with  no  support  for  his  back 
or  any  part  of  his  person,  his  whole  body  became  so  rilled 
with  pains,  acute  and  annoying,  that  no  twisting  or  turning 
or  stretching  could  or  did  give  relief.  In  such  sad  condi- 
tion, John,  young  as  he  was  and  inexperienced  in  any  ways 
of  deception,  occupied  his  time  mainly,  at  first,  in  concoct- 
ing a  plan,  and  made  a  story  accordingly  by  which  he  suc- 
ceeded, for  a  few  days,  in  getting  out  of  the  school  at  the 
noon  intermission  to  go  home.  To  accomplish  this  object, 
he  told  his  teacher  that  he  was  needed  at  two  o'clock  every 
day  to  aid  in  getting  up  the  cows.  His  statement  was 
taken  as  true,  and  for  a  week  at  least,  Johnnie  Gooch,  as  he 
was  then  called,  might  have  been  seen  making  his  way 
down  the  towpath  of  the  canal  to  his  home. 

Finally  Colonel  Gooch  inquired  of  him,  how  he  got  home 
so  early.  He  replied  briefly,  "  The  teacher  lets  me  come." 
He  persisted  for  one  or  two  days  more,  in  coming  directly 
home  at  the  same  early  hour,  when  Colonel  Gooch  said  to 
him  on  the  last  day,  "  To-morrow  morning,  I  will  go  with 
you  to  school  to  see  what  this  means."  Accordingly,  the 
next  morning  Colonel  Gooch  for  the  second  time  accom- 
panied his  ward  to  the  school.  Miss  Colburn  was  called, 
and  upon  her  explanation  of  the  matter,  Colonel  Gooch 
without  even  the  least  admonition  to  the  boy,  stated  to  the 
teacher,  "  that  he  was  not  needed  at  home  at  all ;  that  his 
whole  business  was  to  attend  school  ;  and  that  he  expected 
him  to  do  so  promptly,  according  to  rule."  He  had 


COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  FAMILY.  45 

hardly  quitted  the  school,  when  Miss  Colburn  coming  to 
John  and  caressing  him  in  her  own  tender,  sweet  manner, 
asked,  "  if  he  was  not  sorry  that  he  had  told  such  stories." 
Feeling  even  then,  as  he  sat  upon  a  bench  too  lofty  and  un- 
guarded in  every  way  for  his  size  and  comfort,  the  approach 
of  the  old  pains,  which  he  dreaded,  he  replied  honestly. 
"  No,  madam  !  "  However,  such  was  her  kind  treatment  of 
him  thereafter,  due  pains  being  taken  to  improve  his  condi- 
tion, that  he  became  earnest  in  his  school  work,  and  although 
it  was  environed  by  every  imaginable  inconvenience  in  the 
old  church,  it  was  made  pleasant  and  profitable  through  the 
efforts  of  his  patient  and  faithful  teacher. 

About  this  time,  people  in  the  State  of  Ohio,  around 
Chillicothc.  began  to  have  their  attention  called  to  the  im- 
portance and  advantage  of  other  movements  further  west- 
ward. Hardly  a  single  gathering  of  any  sort — social,  politi- 
cal, or  business — was  had  where  the  saying,  "  Westward  the 
star  of  Empire  takes  its  flight,"  was  not  reiterated,  as  the 
expression  of  the  growing  popular  sentiment  of  the  neigh- 
borhood. Many  had  their  attention  turned  especially  to 
the  then  new  State  of  Missouri.  Agents  handling  real 
estate  were  not  only  numerous,  but  urgent  and  emphatic, 
in  their  descriptions  and  offers  for  sale  of  what  they 
termed  the  fertile,  productive  lands  of  that  State ;  which, 
purchasable  at  that  time  at  merely  nominal  figures,  must 
prove  to  be  at  a  near  future  salable  at  advanced  and 
greatly  improved  prices.  Many  farmers  of  the  Scioto 
Valley  sold  their  great  landed  possessions,  sometimes  at 
even  what  was  deemed  low  figures,  and  made  haste  to  in- 
vest in  lands  recommended  by  such  agents. 

The  Gooch  family,  beautifully  situated  as  it  was,  and, 
apparently,  settled  without  any  desire  ever  to  change  its 
excellent  and  desirable  home,  even  though  another  invest- 
ment might  greatly  increase  its  wealth,  did  not  escape  the 
feeling  here  indicated.  Debate  ran  high  and  became  warm 
between  Colonel  Gooch  and  his  sons-in-law,  Fisher  and 
Eggleston,  on  the  one  part,  and  the  ladies  of  the  family  on 
the  other,  with  respect  to  the  sale  of  their  possessions  and 


46    FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

their  removal  to  and  settlement  in  the  State  of  Missouri. 
The  reasons,  pro  and  con,  were  presented  in  many  conver- 
sations at  the  table  and  in  the  parlors  of  their  home,  with 
warmth,  tact,  and  often  eloquence,  by  both  the  ladies  and 
gentlemen.  At  last,  however,  Colonel  Gooch  having 
brought  his  wife  to  his  own  way  of  thinking,  gave  his  cast- 
ing vote,  as  he  said,  in  the  interest  of  his  own  family,  and 
those  of  his  sons-in-law.  He  sold  without  much  effort  and 
at  great  profit,  his  Ohio  lands,  including  especially  the  rich 
and  beautiful  farm  upon  which  he  resided.  According  to 
the  terms  of  sale,  possession  was  to  be  given  within  a  very 
limited  time  ;  and  so  Colonel  Gooch  found  it  necessary  to 
make  hurried  arrangements  for  his  removal.  He  deter- 
mined to  leave  the  State,  when  he  left  the  farm  ;  and, 
hence,  his  duties  were,  for  that  reason,  various  and  com- 
plex. First  of  all,  he  must,  according  to  his  desire,  arrange 
for  the  purchase  of  such  lands  in  the  State  of  Missouri,  as 
upon  his  personal  inspection,  on  his  arrival  there,  he  should 
find  in  situation,  quantity  and  character,  suited  to  his  pur- 
poses; for  now  his  sons-in-law  and  their  families,  going 
with  him,  proposed  to  settle  upon  portions  of  the  lands 
which  he  might  buy.  Arrangements  were  very  soon  made, 
and  to  his  satisfaction,  in  such  respect,  when  he  gave  his 
attention  with  energy  to  the  sale  of  his  personal  property, 
and  to  providing  for  the  conveyance  of  his  own  family  and 
those  of  Messrs.  Fisher  and  Eggleston,  with  such  imple- 
ments, teams,  wagons,  and  other  property  as  they  might 
find  proper  to  take  with  them. 

At  this  time  there  was,  in  fact,  but  a  single  method  of 
public  conveyance  practicable  from  Chillicothe  to  St. 
Louis,  Missouri,  the  city  to  which  Colonel  Gooch  would 
make  his  way.  This  was  by  canal-boat  from  his  farm  to 
Portsmouth,  Ohio  ;  and  from  the  latter  place  by  steamboat, 
on  the  Ohio  and  Mississippi  rivers,  to  the  chief  city  of 
Missouri.  He  determined,  therefore,  to  charter  for  his 
purposes  a  canal-boat  to  Portsmouth,  and  to  employ  a 
steamboat  from  there  to  St.  Louis.  Thence,  he  would  use 
his  wagons  and  teams  for  conveying  the  members  of  the 


COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  FAMILY.  47 

different  families  and  their  effects  to  the  lands,  which, 
though  he  had  not  seen,  upon  reliable  descriptions  which  he 
had  accepted,  he  had  bought  and  decided  to  occupy. 

All  this  was  accomplished,  and  the  family  was  ready  to 
vacate  the  premises  at  the  appointed  time,  with  full  and 
ample  arrangements  made  for  the  use  of  the  needed  canal 
and  steamboat  accommodations  for  all  concerned.  In  the 
pressure  and  hurry  incident  to  the  settlement  of  the  affairs 
described,  the  boy  John  seemed  to  have  been  forgotten, 
though  never  neglected.  At  last,  his  case  came  up  for 
formal  and  decisive  consideration  between  Colonel  and  Mrs. 
Gooch,  when  they  decided  to  let  him  say  whether  he 
would  go  with  them  or  remain  in  Ohio.  He  was  called 
and, when  he  had  entered  and  seated  himself  in  the  special 
apartments  of  these  excellent  persons,  his  best  friends,  as  he 
felt  and  believed,  Colonel  Gooch  explained  carefully  to 
him,  as  to  how  he  had  sold  his  property,  and  that  he  was 
going  to  move  out  of  the  State ;  he  also  told  him  when 
and  where  he  would  settle,  hoping  thereby  to  advance  the 
interests  and  promote  the  welfare  of  his  entire  household. 
He  then  asked  the  boy  the  question,  "  Will  you  go  with  us, 
or  do  you  prefer  to  remain  here  ? "  His  answer  was 
promptly  given,  and  affirmatively,  he  saying,  "  I  will  go 
with  you." 

John  had  learned  to  love  these  estimable  people  as  his 
father  and  mother,  and  with  them,  under  their  care  and 
protection,  he  felt  as  if  he  moved  in  absolute  safety. 
Indeed,  he  had  come  to  feel  that  Mrs.  Gooch  would  not 
only  do  everything  for  him,  indulging  him  as  her  own  child, 
but  that  she  was  able  to,  and  would  protect  him  against  all 
harm.  These  venerable  persons  loved  him  in  return,  as 
every  act  of  theirs  from  the  time  he  came  to  them,  when  they 
received  him  as  described,  abundantly  showed.  The  words 
came,  in  answer  to  his  statement,  without  the  least  hesita- 
tion, from  the  lips  of  Colonel  Gooch,  "  You  shall  go." 
From  that  time,  everything  was  made  ready  for  his  journey, 
as  for  that  of  any  other  member  of  the  family.  His  outfit 
of  clothing,  his  dogs,  hunting  and  fishing  tackle,  to  say 


48         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

nothing  of  a  thousand  other  things,  provided  for  his  com- 
fort and  pleasure,  were  secured  against  the  day  of  their 
departure. 

That  day  came  quickly !  The  canal-boat  which  had 
been  chartered  to  carry  the  families  and  their  effects  forty- 
five  miles  away  to  Portsmouth,  brought  immediately  in 
front  of  the  pathway  leading,  not  over  twenty-five  yards, 
from  the  house  to  the  canal,  was  made  fast  there,  so  as  to 
be  easily  and  readily  loaded.  Within  three  days  the  load- 
ing was  entirely  completed  ;  and,  at  nine  o'clock  at  night, 
after  all  the  members  of  the  families,  including  the  boy 
John,  had  gone  aboard,  and  two  teams  of  valuable  horses 
and  three  famous  dogs  of  high  blood  had  been  carried 
and  secured  upon  the  boat,  it  was  ordered  by  the  captain 
that  everything  be  made  ready  without  the  least  delay  for 
departure.  Within  one  hour  the  boat  was  moving  off.  So 
soon  as  its  motion  was  felt,  the  eight  persons  who  com- 
posed the  Gooch  party — four  ladies,  three  gentlemen,  and 
the  boy  John — took  their  places  upon  the  deck  to  get  their 
last  look  at  the  beautiful  home  which  they  were  leaving, 
with  its  charming  grounds,  orchards,  garden,  and  fields, 
across  the  full  length  of  whose  extended  acres  the  canal  ran. 
At  last,  within  a  very  short  time,  the  boat  passed  the  south- 
east limit  of  the  farm  ;  when  all,  fatigued  from  late  anxie- 
ties and  labors  connected  with  the  necessary  preparations 
for  moving,  betook  themselves,  respectively,  to  their  places 
of  retirement. 

John  had  taken  leave  of  his  school  and  teacher  only  one 
week  before  he  started  upon  this  journey. 

To  the  surprise  of  all  concerned,  on  rising  the  next  morn- 
ing after  their  departure,  it  was  found  that  they  had  only 
gone  fifteen  miles,  and  were  still  inside  of  Ross  County. 
They  were  confronted,  also,  by  the  sad  intelligence  that 
there  was  a  break  in  the  canal  below  them,  and  that  in  con- 
sequence the  boat  was  aground.  It  was  apparent  that  noth- 
ing could  be  done,  in  the  way  of  moving  on,  till  repairs  were 
made,  and  that  this  might  cause  a  detention  of  several 
hours. 


COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  FAMILY.  49 

In  due  season,  breakfast  was  taken,  and  each  one  betook 
himself  to  such  occupation  or  amusement  as  seemed  to  be 
practicable  and  agreeable.  John  was  permitted  to  go  upon 
the  shore  and  amuse  himself,  as  best  he  might,  in  finding 
and  throwing  pebbles  into  the  river.  He  had  not  been 
engaged  in  this  pastime  long,  when  turning  his  attention  to 
the  distant  view,  stretching  on  for  miles  up  the  towpath,  he 
discovered  certain  objects  which  seemed  to  be  in  motion  and 
coming  towards  him. 

It  was  soon  discovered  that  these  objects,  now  in  near  ap- 
proach, were  two  men  on  horseback,  riding  at  full  speed,  as 
they  pressed  their  animals  forward.  They  commanded  the 
attention  of  everyone,  as  stopping,  they  dismounted  and 
inquired  for  Colonel  Gooch.  One  of  these  persons  was  a 
white  man,  the  sheriff  of  the  county ;  the  other  William 
Langston,  half-brother  of  John.  They  had  come,  as  the 
sequel  proved,  to  serve  process  upon  Colonel  Gooch,  and  to 
require  his  return,  with  his  ward  John,  to  the  city  of  Chilli- 
cothe,  to  appear  before  the  court,  which  would  inquire  as  to 
whether  he  could  lawfully  carry  his  ward  beyond  its  jurisdic- 
tion. 

Colonel  Gooch  made  his  appearance  promptly,  and  the 
sheriff  served  upon  him  the  process  which  he  bore.  Going 
upon  the  boat,  he  hurriedly  informed  his  wife  that  the  offi- 
cer had  come  after  him,  and  that  he  would  be  obliged  to 
take  John  and  return  with  him.  He  ordered  one  of  his 
horses  bridled  and  saddled,  while  he  made  his  personal  prep- 
arations to  obey  the  order  of  the  court.  In  the  meantime, 
Mrs.  Gooch,  Virginia,  and  the  other  members  of  the  family, 
busied  themselves  in  attentions  to  the  boy,  who  seemed  to 
be  utterly  overcome  by  dread  and  alarm.  All  were  moved  to 
tears;  but  none  wept  and  sobbed,  as  utterly  heart-broken,  as 
Mrs.  Gooch  and  John. 

Painful  as  it  was,  the  separation  was  not  delayed  ;  and  at 
once,  led  by  the  officer  and  the  man  who  accompanied 
him,  Colonel  Gooch  upon  his  horse,  with  the  boy  riding  be- 
hind him  and  clinging  tightly  to  him,  was  on  his  way  back  to 
Chillicothe.to  answer  the  proceeding  instituted  against  him. 


50 


FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 


It  is  true,  as  already  stated,  that  Captain  Ralph  Quarles 
had  requested  Colonel  Gooch  to  act  as  the  guardian  of  John  ; 
but,  in  order  that  the  authority  which  he  would  exercise,  as 
to  his  person  and  property,  might  be  in  all  respects  legal 
and  binding,  he  had  been  appointed  by  the  Common  Pleas 
Court  of  Ross  County  to  that  position.  Such  being  the 
case,  he  was  held  amenable  to  the  court  appointing  him,  and 
as  claimed  by  the  friends  of  the  boy,  he  could  not  take  him 
justly  beyond  its  jurisdiction.  Having  attempted  such 
thing,  he  became  vulnerable  to  the  action  instituted  against 
him  ;  and  was,  accordingly,  served  with  the  process  within 
the  limits  of  Ross  County,  and  compelled  to  answer  upon 
such  charge. 

It  was  past  midday  when  Colonel  Gooch  reached  the 
court  house  where  the  case  was  to  be  heard,  and  it  was 
quite  three  o'clock  before  it  was  called.  The  excitement 
caused  by  Colonel  Gooch's  conduct  was  very  great,  and 
such  was  the  popular  feeling  against  him  on  the  part  of 
many,  that  he  was  charged  with  attempting  to  kidnap  the 
boy.  The  colored  people,  mistaken  as  to  Colonel  Gooch's 
real  feelings  and  purposes  and  aroused  and  exasperated  by 
such  a  charge  as  the  one  just  mentioned,  gathered  in  im- 
mense numbers  in  and  about  the  court  house  and  the  city, 
expressing  in  words  and  acts  the  deepest  interest  in  the 
decision  of  the  court.  Colonel  Gooch  was  vulnerable  to 
no  charge  of  wrong  to  his  ward  ;  and  this  must  ever  stand 
as  firm  and  positive  assurance  in  his  behalf.  Influenced  by 
a  fatherly  indulgence,  to  which  he  was  largely  moved  by 
the  words  and  actions  of  his  wife,  as  well  as  his  solemn 
promises  to  Captain  Quarles,  Colonel  Gooch  attempted  to 
continue  his  care  and  protection  of  John,  even  carrying  him, 
with  all  its  risks,  from  a  free  to  a  slaveholding  State. 

The  County  Court  was  holding  a  regular  session,  at  this 
time,  with  Judge  Keith,  a  personal  friend  of  Colonel  Gooch, 
and  a  lawyer  of  acknowledged  ability  and  name,  seated 
upon  the  bench.  The  Chillicothe  Bar  was  the  first  of  the 
State;  and  the  attorneys  in  practice  before  it,  were  in 
most  cases  learned,  able,  and  eloquent.  Several  of  them 


COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  FAMILY.  51 

became  subsequently  the  most  accomplished  and  distin- 
guished members  of  the  American  Bar.  Thomas  Ewing, 
Henry  B.  Stansberry  and  Allen  G.  Thurman,  were  then 
youthful  but  promising  lawyers,  who  have  since  by  mas- 
terly displays  of  their  various  sound  legal  learning  and  pro- 
fessional skill  and  integrity,  made  their  names  famous  and 
their  reputations  enduring. 

The  last  named  of  these  three  lawyers  appeared  in  this 
case,  as  he  had  been  retained  and  employed  by  William 
Langston.  Colonel  Gooch  was  represented  in  the  trial  by 
another  of  the  foremost  lawyers  of  that  Bar,  the  Hon.  John 
L.  Taylor,  who,  at  that  time,  was  a  member  of  the  United 
States  Congress.  The  action  was  one  founded  upon  the 
writ  of  habeas  corpus,  having  for  its  object  inquiry  as  to  the 
detention  of  the  boy  John  by  Colonel  Gooch,  in  his 
attempt  to  carry  him  beyond  the  jurisdiction  and  power  of 
the  court  by  which  he  had  been  made  his  guardian,  and  to 
which  he  was  legally  held  to  be  amenable.  In  his  attempt 
to  move  the  boy,  and  any  property,  cash  or  other,  which  he 
controlled,  without  the  authority  given  by  the  court  and 
sustained  by  law,  he  was  justly  held  liable  to  this  action ; 
and  the  release  of  the  boy  from  his  management  and  con- 
trol was  manifestly  just  and  proper. 

Such  was  the  high  esteem  in  which  Colonel  Gooch  was 
held,  and  the  desire  of  all  concerned  to  accommodate  him 
under  the  circumstances,  that  the  cause  which  was  in  hear- 
ing when  he  came  into  court  was  by  general  consent  sus- 
pended for  the  time,  and  the  action  against  him  was  at 
once  called.  The  lawyers  on  both  sides  appearing  promptly, 
declared  themselves  ready  for  the  hearing.  Statements  upon 
the  merits  of  the  case  involving  the  law  and  the  facts  were 
made  upon  either  side  ;  when  at  last  the  formal  arguments 
were  presented  by  the  attorneys,  Mr.  Thurman  opening 
and  closing  while  Mr.  Taylor  offered  his  full  statement  in  a 
single  address.  It  is  due  the  former  attorney  to  state  that 
in  his  comments  upon  the  law  as  he  cited  it,  and  his  manage- 
ment of  the  facts  as  he  adduced  them,  that  he  not  only  dis- 
covered remarkable  learning  and  skill  but  forensic  eloquence 


52         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

of  a  very  high  order.  Immediately  upon  the  close  of  the 
arguments  the  court  decided  that  Colonel  Gooch  could  not 
carry  the  boy,  his  ward,  beyond  its  jurisdiction,  outside  of 
the  county  of  Ross  and  State  of  Ohio.  Besides,  it  ordered 
the  boy  into  its  own  custody,  and  directed  the  sheriff  to  take 
possession  of  and  care  for  him  until  otherwise  ordered  by  it. 

While  these  proceedings  were  taking  place  the  boy  sat 
in  the  court  room,  weeping  as  if  his  heart  was  breaking  in 
the  deep  bereavement  which  he  experienced.  As  the  judge 
closed  his  decision,  and  the  excited  assembly  expressed  its 
approving  relief,  not  in  outburst  of  applause  but  changed 
and  pleasing  countenances,  Colonel  Gooch  bade  John  good- 
bye, tarrying  only  to  leave  with  him  his  fatherly  caress  and 
benediction. 

The  Goochs  were  gone  !  But  the  memory  of  the  separa- 
tion from  them  has  been,  all  these  years,  a  living  thing  in 
the  mind  and  heart  of  the  one  who  seemed  most  deeply 
affected  for  weal  or  woe  by  the  proceedings  here  detailed. 

How  like  a  succession  of  pleasing  delightsome  dreams  the 
life  and  experiences  of  John  in  the  Gooch  family,  so  fortu- 
nate and  happy,  have  always  appeared  to  him  !  His  prayer 
shall  ever  be  in  view  of  them,  one  of  earnest  gratitude,  with 
a  holy  sincere  invocation  of  God's  blessing  upon  any  mem- 
ber of  that  family,  who  served  him  in  the  early  day,  the  one 
of  his  greatest  need  ! 

Though  William  Langston  manifested  special  interest 
and  determination  in  keeping  his  brother  in  Ohio,  even  in- 
stituting, as  advised  by  friends  and  his  lawyer,  proceedings 
in  the  court  to  accomplish  that  end,  he  never  lacked  confi- 
dence in  Colonel  Gooch  and  his  family,  as  earnest  and  hon- 
est in  their  attachments  to  John,  and  as  honorable  and 
sincere  in  their  purposes  to  protect  and  care  for  him.  He 
did  fear,  however,  that  should  he  be  carried  to  Missouri  his 
education  would  be  neglected  ;  and  should  Colonel  Gooch 
or  Mrs.  Gooch  die,  or  serious  change  be  made  in  the  circum- 
stances of  the  family,  his  freedom  might  be  endangered  in 
a  slave-holding  State.  Such  feelings  were  natural,  and  he 
was  wise  in  acting  upon  them. 


COLONEL  GOOCH  AND  FAMILY.       53 

Thirty  years  and  more  had  passed  !  The  young  lawyer 
who  had  managed  the  case,  had  won  distinction  as  well  in 
politics  as  in  his  profession,  and  had  become  a  noted  and 
distinguished  United  States  senator.  His  client  himself 
had  become  an  educated  man,  passing  through  the  several 
courses  and  departments  of  the  schools  and  the  college,  and 
had  been  numbered  among  men  of  prominence  in  the  coun- 
try. The  two  met  and  had  their  first  conversation  in  regard 
to  the  suit  and  its  consequences  after  such  lapse  of  time, 
in  the  city  of  Washington,  and  at  the  senator's  own  home. 
This  meeting  was  brought  about  after  the  following  manner. 
A  person  from  Ohio,  the  State  represented  in  part  in  the 
senate  by  Judge  Thurman,  having  in  charge  a  very  impor- 
tant school  interest  located  in  that  State,  needing  the  ser- 
vices of  a  senator  of  special  fitness  and  ability  to  present 
and  advocate  such  interests  in  Congress,  asked  his  former 
client  to  introduce  and  commend  him  and  his  cause  to  Sen- 
ator Thurman.  This  was  done  with  ease  and  effect.  And 
after  conversation  with  respect  thereto  had  been  finished, 
allusion  was  made  to  the  former  relations  of  the  lawyer  and 
his  boy-client,  as  they  appeared  years  before  in  the  Chilli- 
cothe  court.  The  young  client,  now  hard  by  forty  years  of 
age,  told  the  senator  frankly  how  for  a  long  time  he  really 
hated  him ;  because  he  felt  that  he  had  heartlessly  taken 
him  from  his  best  and  truest  friends — from  those  whom  he 
loved  and  honored  as  his  father  and  mother !  So  soon  as 
the  senator  recognized  in  the  grown  man  standing  before 
him,  his  weeping,  heartbroken  boy-client,  as  he  saw  and 
plead  for  him  in  the  court,  he  advanced,  gave  him  his  hand, 
and  in  chiding,  yet  tender  manner,  asked  why  he  had  not 
long  ago  called  upon  him  and  made  himself  known.  He 
said  with  deep  feeling  and  great  emphasis,  "  Langston,  I 
saved,  I  made  you  ;  and  so  far  from  hating,  you  should  love 
me." 

But  how  could  a  fatherless  and  motherless  boy,  without 
explanation,  and  the  knowledge  which  it  would  impart, 
love  one  who  had  seemed  to  take  from  him  his  best  friends, 
when  he  needed  them  most  ? 


CHAPTER  IV. 

THE   GREAT  CHANGE! 

IT  was  a  great  change  indeed  which  came  to  the  lad  not 
quite  ten  years  of  age,  when  he  passed  from  the  guardian- 
ship and  home  of  Colonel  Gooch,  to  the  temporary  residence 
and  new  habits  of  self-care  and  labor  in  the  household  of 
Mr.  Richard  Long.  When  he  was  asked  whether  he  would 
like  to  continue  upon  the  beautiful  farm  which  Colonel 
Gooch  and  his  family  had  just  left,  it  seemed  so  much  like 
coming  near  to  them  again,  that  he  said  yes,  he  would. 
The  present  owner  and  proprietor  was  the  gentleman  whose 
name  has  just  been  given,  who  consented  to  take  John  and 
care  reasonably  for  him. 

Mr.  Long  was  originally  from  New  England.  He  had 
inherited  and  gathered  from  experience  all  the  severer  ele- 
ments of  Puritan  purpose  and  life.  Quite  severe  enough  in 
his  management  of  boys,  his  idea  of  the  highest  style  of  boy- 
hood was  realized,  when  it  could  be  said  of  one  that  he 
was  a  good  worker.  Of  his  own  son,  who  was,  like  his 
mother,  remarkably  talented,  kind-hearted,  and  refined  by 
nature,  as  well  as  fair  culture  for  his  age,  he  had  a  very  low 
opinion,  because,  as  he  claimed,  he  was  no  worker.  He 
could  not  milk ;  he  could  not  manage  horses ;  he  knew 
neither  how  to  drive  nor  to  groom  them  ;  he  could  not  chop, 
saw,  nor  split  wood  ;  he  did  not  know  how  to  do  ordinary 
general  farm  work  ;  and  besides,  seemed  to  have  no  inclina- 
tion to  do  such  things,  as  those  which  his  father  deemed  to 
54 


THE  GREAT  CHANGE!  55 

be  of  the  greatest  importance  ;  and,  to  be  able  to  do  which, 
demonstrated  the  possession  of  the  best  possible  youthful 
character  and  promise. 

The  first  question  Mr.  Long  put  to  John  was,  "  What,  sif, 
can  you  do  ?  "  To  which  the  boy  made  prompt,  honest  re- 
ply, according  to  his  past  experience  and  the  truth,  in  the 
answer,  "  I  can't  do  anything."  His  second  question  was  a 
terrible  one,  when,  seemingly,  astonished  at  the  answer 
which  the  young  boy  had  made,  he  asked  with  deepest  earn- 
estness, "  How  do  you  expect  to  live?"  Such  questions 
and  the  manner  of  Mr.  Long  very  quickly  convinced  the 
young  Virginian,  who  had  been  living  at  leisure  in  the 
Gooch  family,  that  a  change  was  coming  on  ;  and  that  life, 
at  last,  might  prove  to  be,  even  in  his  case,  a  solemn  and 
earnest  thing. 

When  the  matter  of  John's  location  was  debated  among 
his  friends,  and  it  was  suggested  that  it  might  be  well, 
since  he  seemed  desirous  of  returning  to  the  old  farm,  and 
the  owner  and  proprietor  of  it,  Mr.  Long,  would  take  him, 
it  was  concluded  that  such  arrangement  might  prove  to 
be  specially  favorable,  as  this  gentleman  was  an  Abolitionist. 
This  word  was  new  to  the  boy,  and  he  ventured  to  ask  its 
meaning,  when  some  one  present  replied,  saying  it  means 
that  he  loves  colored  people,  and  would  have  them  all 
treated  very  kindly.  John's  observation  of  affairs  did  not 
justify  the  belief  that  Mr.  Long  would  make  any  distinc- 
tions in  his  dealings  with  mankind,  favoring  anyone  in  the 
least  on  account  of  his  color.  He  found  him  severe  enough 
in  dealing  with  any  and  all  classes,  always  counting  the  bal- 
ance in  his  own  favor. 

Quite  timid,  and  yet  determined  to  make  the  most  of  a 
bargain,  which  seemed  even  in  his  untutored  imagination, 
by  contrast,  hard  enough,  John  commenced  with  Mr.  Long, 
thinking  every  day  of  the  Goochs,  and  wondering  whether 
Mrs.  Gooch  had  forgotten  him. 

The  first  work  given  him  to  do  was  that  of  driving  the 
horse  and  cart,  hauling  brick  from  the  kiln  at  a  distant  part 
of  the  farm  to  the  yard,  where  a  new  building  was  to  be 


56         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

erected.  The  lad  discovered  great  love  of  horses,  and 
considerable  skill  in  the  managemeut  of  the  one  which  he 
drove.  His  third  day's  work  with  the  horse  and  cart  had 
just  been  finished,  when  Mr  Long  coming  up  and  observing 
his  movements  with  no  little  interest,  complimented  him 
by  saying,  "  You  are  doing  well,  sir,  and  if  you  continue, 
you  will  make  a  good  driver."  What  he  predicted  here 
was  not  long  thereafter  realized  ;  and  by  the  time  John  had 
reached  his  eleventh  year,  he  drove  skillfully,  and  to  the 
satisfaction  of  even  Mr  Long,  his  pair  of  beautiful  sorrel 
horses,  as  employed  during  the  week  in  the  wagon,  and  in 
the  family  carriage  on  Sunday. 

After  the  first  six  months,  John,  under  the  supervision  and 
direction  of  a  nephew  of  the  Long  family,  a  young  man  of 
excellent  character  and  kindly  disposition,  gave  attention  to 
general  farm  work,  and  according  to  the  measure  of  his 
strength,  for  a  boy,  became  a  good  and  useful  worker.  The 
soil  in  every  part  of  the  farm,  extremely  rich  and  produc- 
tive, was  easily  worked  with  hoe  or  plow.  So  far  as  the 
light  plow  was  concerned,  he  handled  that,  finally,  with 
skill  and  ease ;  and  in  the  use  of  the  hoe  and  other  small 
implements,  he  was  serviceable.  In  fact,  he  made  himself 
useful,  generally,  and  was  often  complimented  by  the 
superintendent  for  his  diligence  and  efficiency. 

Mr.  Long  was  a  person  of  stern  and  rigid  Presbyterian 
principles.  He  was  a  member  and  deacon  of  the  Presby- 
terian church  of  Chillicothe,  at  that  time  called  "Old 
School " ;  and  his  zeal  in  behalf  of  church  work  was 
manifest,  and  apparently  sincere.  Sustaining  such  relations 
to  the  church,  and,  of  course,  obligated  to  such  duty  of  life 
and  conduct  as  would  naturally  tend  to  advance  its 
general  interests  and  maintain  its  influence,  he  daily 
gathered  his  family  about  him  to  hear  the  Word,  as  he  him- 
self read  and  expounded  it  in  family  worship.  All  con- 
nected with  the  family,  even  the  colored  cook  and  hired 
man,  were  required  to  lay  aside,  for  the  time  being,  any 
duty  which  might  claim  attention,  and  attend  upon  such 
religious  services.  Of  course,  the  members  of  the  family 


THE  GREAT  CHANGE!  57 

proper — the  sons  and  daughters  with  others,  relatives  and 
friends  resident  therein — were  expected,  and  did  give, 
special  attentive  regard  to  all  such  matters  of  spiritual 
devotion.  As  the  other  children  were  required  to  have 
opened  before  them,  on  such  occasions,  the  Old  or  New 
Testament,  according  to  the  morning  or  evening  selection 
of  the  reader,  John  was,  from  his  attendance  upon  the  first 
of  such  exercises,  given  a  Bible,  and  directed  to  observe  the 
same  habit.  Not  always,  but  according  to  the  convenience 
of  the  family,  frequently  everyone  with  the  Bible  in  hand 
took  part  by  reading  a  single  verse  of  the  lesson  in  regular 
course.  The  exercises  consisted  of  singing  and  praying  as 
well  as  reading,  and  were  often  really  interesting  and 
edifying.  Often  it  was  the  case,  by  reason  of  the  relations 
of  the  family  to  the  church,  that  distinguished  ministers  of 
the  Presbyterian  persuasion,  spending  a  little  time  in  visits 
to  the  city,  made  the  home  of  the  Longs  their  place  of 
sojourn  ;  and  so  their  special  conduct  of  the  religious  ex- 
ercises lent  additional  interest  and  zest  to  them.  It  is  not 
difficult  to  understand  what  the  influence  of  a  Christian  family, 
conducted  as  indicated,  must  have  exerted  upon  a  young 
boy  like  John,  of  inquisitive,  impressible  understanding. 

Following  such  family  influence,  came  the  attendance 
upon  church,  regularly,  and  the  Sabbath-school.  For  it  is 
due  Mr.  Long  to  state  that,  while  he  was  a  man  always  dili- 
gent in  business  and  exacting  of  those  about  him  and  in  his 
service,  he  would  not  tolerate  the  neglect  of  the  moral  and 
religious  culture  of  the  humblest  of  his  dependents.  It  was 
true  that  John  had  his  chores,  which  required  his  attention 
on  Sunday,  as  well  as  upon  any  ordinary  day  of  the  week ; 
and  that  he  was,  especially,  charged  with  the  care  of  the 
family  carriage,  as  he  drove  the  team  every  Sunday  to  the 
Sunday-school  and  church  ;  and  yet  he  was  required  to 
exercise  such  diligence  and  promptness,  with  respect  to  such 
duties,  as  not  to  lose  a  single  privilege  or  advantage  offered 
in  his  Sabbath-school  class  and  the  church.  He  was  re- 
quired to  attend,  regularly,  too,  to  the  study,  weekly,  of  his 
Sabbath-school  lesson,  precisely  as  the  other  children  of  the 


58         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

family :  and  with  them,  he  belonged  to  the  regular  Sabbath- 
school  class,  and  attended  church,  seated  always  with  the 
family. 

This  family  consisted  of  the  parents,  five  children — three 
boys  and  two  girls,  the  latter  being  quite  young  ladies— and 
a  nephew  of  Mr.  Long,  named  in  his  honor,  and  made  by 
him  the  special  manager  of  his  farm.  John  found  himself 
quite  at  home,  finally,  with  them  all ;  for  besides  receiving 
from  all  the  younger  members  of  the  family  kind-hearted 
and  considerate  treatment,  Mrs.  Long  proved  to  be  an  ami- 
able person,  discovering,  always,  a  reasonable  amount  of 
interest  in  him. 

The  associations  of  the  family  were  quite  extended  in  the 
community ;  and  its  home  was  often  made  the  place  of 
social  gathering  and  enjoyment.  Those  who  shared  its  hos- 
pitality, were  persons  generally  of  the  very  first  grades  of 
society,  representing  its  highest  culture  and  refinement. 
Mrs.  Long  sustained  the  name  and  character  of  one  of  the 
very  first  ladies  of  the  community. 

On  the  whole,  by  reason  of  the  excellent  associations 
which  he  enjoyed  with  the  children  of  the  family  and  their 
companions ;  the  moral  and  religious  culture  which  he 
gained  ;  and  the  instruction  and  training  given  him,  in  the 
ways  of  industry  and  self-reliance,  John  lost  really  nothing 
by  the  change  which  was  made  in  his  case  from  a  loving  and 
indulgent  family,  to  one  in  which  the  strict  and  severe  dis- 
cipline of  life  prevailed.  Tender  of  age  as  he  was,  and  frail 
in  physical  constitution  and  health,  his  treatment  in  the  latter 
family  was  calculated  to  improve  his  condition,  while  fitting 
him,  mentally  and  morally,  for  those  trying  and  taxing 
duties  which  must  soon  come  upon  him. 

How  strange  the  ways  of  Providence,  in  its  dealings  with 
those  who  may  be  called  through  the  hard  ways  of  human 
existence,  to  duties  for  which  they  can  only  be  prepared 
through  their  own  experiences  !  To  such,  experience  is  not, 
in  the  language  of  Coleridge,  "  like  the  stern  lights  of  a  ship." 
It  is  rather  the  full-orbed  day,  surrounding  them  with  the 
light,  which  shall  be  their  wisdom  and  salvation. 


THE  GREAT  CHANGE!  59 

But  philosophize  as  one  may,  crediting  a  kind  Providence 
with  the  good  results  which  certainly  came  from  the  expe- 
riences of  the  boy,  of  whose  condition  and  advancement 
record  is  here  made,  it  is  due  him,  as  well  as  those  who  had 
treated  him  so  lovingly  and  tenderly,  to  state  that  the  days 
and  weeks  multiplied  themselves  in  their  grave,  solemn 
tread,  till  they  made  months  in  duration  and  verged  on 
years,  before  he  could  even  think  of  what  seemed  to  be  his 
dire  loss,  in  the  great  change  which  had  come  to  him,  with 
the  least  degree  of  resignation  or  satisfaction. 

After  leaving  Mr.  Richard  Long  improved  in  physical 
strength,  with  a  better  conception  of  the  earnest  side  of  life, 
John,  by  arrangement  of  his  friends,  and  especially  through 
the  influence  of  his  brother  Gideon,  was  sent  to  Cincinnati, 
where  it  was  supposed  he  could  gain  favorable  school  ad- 
vantages. 

At  this  time,  in  the  State  of  Ohio,  there  were  no  public 
school  opportunities  furnished  colored  youth.  The  educa- 
tional advantages  offered  them  could  only  be  found  in 
private  schools,  and  these  were  very  limited  in  number,  and 
often  difficult  to  reach  and  attend. 

The  best  and  most  accessible  school  of  this  character  in 
the  State  for  all  such  youth  as  lived  in  its  southern  section, 
was  the  one  located  in  the  city  named,  kept  by  Messrs. 
Goodwin  and  Denham,  two  scholarly  white  men,  well'dis- 
posed  to  the  colored  race,  and  willing  to  labor  for  its  educa- 
tion. To  this  school,  occupying  the  basement  story  of  the 
Baker  Street  Baptist  Church  of  Cincinnati,  John  was  sent, 
his  brother  who  resided  at  that  time  in  that  city,  engaging 
to  look  after  and  care  for  him. 

He  spent  about  two  years  in  this  city  ;  and  both  at  school 
and  in  general  association,  in  the  observation  and  experi- 
ence and  the  knowledge  which  he  acquired,  he  gained  an 
amount  and  quality  of  practicable  wisdom  which  proved  to 
be  of  large  profit  to  him. 

His  teachers  were  men  of  high  scholarly  attainments,  apt 
at  the  management  and  control  of  their  pupils,  winning  con- 
stantly the  confidence,  as  they  enjoyed  the  respect  of  any 


60         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

scholars  attending  their  school.  The  attendance  was  large, 
being  composed  of  boys  and  girls  more  or  less  advanced  and 
easily  classified,  so  that  the  discipline  of  the  school  was  by 
no  means  difficult,  and  its  management  made  conducive 
with  the  least  trouble  to  the  greatest  good  of  the  whole 
number.  It  is  not  saying  too  much  to  assert  that  the 
morality  of  this  school  was  of  high  order,  and  as  thoroughly 
guarded  in  all  respects  as  its  general  standard  of  scholar- 
ship was  exalted  and  maintained.  The  temper  of  the 
teachers,  too,  was  always  even  and  well  sustained  ;  while  all 
classes  advanced  by  steady  progressive  movement,  and  made 
reasonable  proficiency  and  accomplishment  in  study. 

Such  was  the  improvement  which  John  had  already 
made  in  his  studies,  and  such  were  his  application  and  dili- 
gence, that  he  was  not  long  in  this  school  before  he  had  se- 
cured such  promotion  as  to  place  him  in  its  advanced  classes. 
It  is  due  him  to  state,  that  by  his  good  conduct  he  soon 
won  the  respect,  confidence  and  favor  of  his  teachers.  And 
so  much  did  he  become  a  general  favorite  in  the  school  with 
his  fellow-pupils,  that  he  was  never  left  out  when  any  special 
play  or  exercise  calculated  to  increase  and  sustain  the  in- 
fluence of  the  school  was  contemplated.  And  when  thus 
honored  and  engaged,  he  acted  the  part  assigned  him  with 
enthusiasm  and  propriety.  He  very  soon  discovered  special 
love  for,  and  interest  in,  any  exercise,  either  confined  to 
ordinary  school  observances  or  public  exhibitions,  which 
required  rhetorical  effort  or  display.  He  succeeded  so  well 
in  this  school  that,  during  his  last  year,  he  was  one  of  two 
boys  who  composed  its  very  first,  most  advanced  class.  In 
such  studies  as  ancient  history,  advanced  arithmetic  and 
grammar,  with  such  other  subjects  of  science,  in  elementary 
form,  as  comported  with  his  stage  of  advancement,  he  main- 
tained,  with  his  associate  and  classmate,  a  record  of  which 
he  needed  not  to  be  ashamed. 

His  associations  while  in  Cincinnati  were  had  with  the 
best  colored  families,  their  children  and  intimates,  located  at 
the  time  in  that  city.  For  the  first  six  months  of  his  so- 
journ  there,  he  boarded  in  the  family  of  Mr.  John  Woodson  ; 


THE  GREAT  CHANGE  !  61 

who  was  a  colored  man  of  prominence  and  influence,  occu- 
pying with  his  family  high  social  position  with  his  class. 
He  was  a  carpenter  and  joiner  by  trade,  doing  considerable 
business  in  that  line.  Fairly  educated,  he  made  an  efficient 
superintendent  of  the  Sabbath-school  of  the  colored  Metho- 
dist church,  of  which  he  was  a  member  of  acknowledged 
name  and  standing.  While  in  his  family,  John  attended 
the  Sunday-school  and  church  with  him  ;  and  was  made 
welcome  to  the  families  which  composed,  mainly,  their 
membership  and  congregation. 

His  boarding-place  was  subsequently  changed,  and  he 
was  given  quarters  in  the  family  of  Mr.  William  W.  Watson, 
the  leading  colored  barber,  at  that  time,  in  Cincinnati.  Be- 
sides being  a  man  of  vigorous  mental  parts,  with  limited 
education,  Mr.  Watson  was  a  prominent  and  influential 
member  and  trustee  of  the  Baker  Street  Baptist  Church. 
He  was  also  the  superintendent  of  the  Sabbath-school  of 
that  church,  and  taught  himself  its  leading  Bible  class,  of 
which  John  became  a  member  on  going  into  his  family.  If 
his  was  not  the  first  family  in  colored  society  in  Cincinnati 
at  that  time,  it  was  certainly  equal  to  any  other,  and  its 
place  in  such  society  and  in  the  Baptist  Church  was,  surely, 
conspicuous  and  influential.  His  house  was  one  to  whose 
well-furnished  and  pleasant  rooms  and  parlors,  the  very  best 
and  most  highly  educated  and  cultured  young  colored  per- 
sons were  wont  to  come ;  and  where,  by  reason  of  the  gen- 
erous hospitality  and  kindness  of  the  whole  household,  they 
were  always  at  ease.  Possessed  of  considerable  means,  and 
conducting  a  profitable  and  prosperous  business,  Mr.  Wat- 
son did  not  fail  to  provide  a  home  for  his  family  which  was 
pleasant  and  attractive  in  every  way  itself,  and  in  its  ap- 
pointments and  surroundings  wholly  agreeable. 

If  there  has  ever  existed  in  any  colored  community  of  the 
United  States,  anything  like  an  aristocratic  class  of  such 
persons,  it  was  found  in  Cincinnati  at  the  time  to  which 
reference  is  here  made.  Besides  finding  there  then  a  large 
class  of  such  persons,  composed  in  greater  part  of  good- 
looking,  well-dressed  and  well-behaved  young  people  of  con- 
5 


62         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

siderable  accomplishment,  one  could  count  many  families 
possessing  a  reasonable  amount  of  means,  who  bore  them- 
selves seemingly  in  consciousness  of  their  personal  dignity 
and  social  worth. 

Perhaps  no  colored  church  in  any  city  of  the  country  was 
more  largely  composed  in  its  congregation  than  the  old 
Baker  Street  Baptist  Church  of  such  better  class.  Its  pas- 
tor was  at  first  the  Rev.  Charles  Satchell.  He  was  suc- 
ceeded by  the  Rev.  William  P.  Newman.  Both  these 
gentlemen  were  possessed  of  large  ability,  piety  and  elo- 
quence. In  its  efficiency  and  influence,  the  Sabbath-school 
of  this  church  was  deservedly  noted.  Other  churches,  the 
Methodist  and  Presbyterian  notably,  belonging  to  the  same 
class,  had  large  and  flourishing  congregations,  with  well- 
attended  and  ably-conducted  Sabbath-schools.  In  fact  the 
entire  negro  community  of  the  city  gave  striking  evi- 
dences, in  every  way  at  this  time,  of  its  intelligence,  indus- 
try, thrift  and  progress ;  and  in  matters  of  education  and 
moral  and  religious  culture,  furnished  an  example  worthy 
of  the  imitation  of  their  whole  people. 

It  is  not  to  be  denied,  nor  may  it  be  overlooked  here, 
that  at  this  time  in  the  Cincinnati  community,  generally, 
there  existed  a  deep-seated  and  growing  sentiment  against 
the  colored  people.  White  persons  who  were  friendly  to 
them,  and  who  dared  to  avow  their  sentiments,  were  in 
many  cases  proscribed  and  made  objects  of  the  severest 
hatred.  The  influence  of  slavery,  established  just  across 
the  Ohio  river,  made  itself  felt  in  the  then  Queen  City  of 
the  West,  in  more  ways  than  one,  and  sometimes  to  the 
most  terrible  effect.  Often  fugitive  slaves  crossing  the 
river  and  coming  into  the  city  found  succor  and  refuge  ; 
sometimes  with  white  persons,  at  others  with  colored  ones. 
When  pursued  and  their  hiding-places  were  discovered  it 
mattered  little  what  the  color  of  the  protector  was,  popular 
feeling  was  quickly  aroused  and  in  not  a  few  cases  mani- 
fested itself  in  violence  against  those  concerned  in  such 
transaction.  It  was  not  difficult,  nor  did  it  require  great 
effort  or  much  time  under  the  circumstances,  to  generate 


THE  GREAT  CHANGE!  63 

and  sustain  such  mob-spirit  as  ultimately  showed  itself  in 
murderous,  destructive  methods. 

The  last  outbreak  of  this  character,  which  John  was  per- 
mitted to  witness  and  which  made  a  lasting  impression 
upon  his  youthful  mind,  was  that  in'  which  the  press  of 
Dr.  Gamaliel  Bailey,  the  editor  and  publisher  of  the 
"  Philanthropist,"  was  'seized  and  by  the  infuriated  rabble 
thrown  into  the  Ohio  river.  For  several  weeks  feeling 
against  the  Abolitionists,  so-caHed,  friends  of'  the  colored 
people,  and  against  the  colored  people  themselves,  had  been 
showing  itself  in  high  and  open  threats,  conveyed  in  vulgar, 
base  expressions,  which  indicated  the  possibility  and  prob- 
ability of  an  early  attack  upon  both  the  classes  mentioned. 

It  was  early  upon  a  certain  Friday  evening,  in  the  late 
fall  of  1840,  that  excited  groups  of  men,  some  white  and 
others  colored,  were  seen  about  the  streets  of  the  city 
and  showing  by  their  words  and  gesticulations,  that  their 
minds  were  dwelling  upon,  and  that  they  were  stirred  by 
some  deeply  serious  and  fearful  matter.  By  reason  of  the 
fact  that  many  found  among  the  white  classes  were  stran- 
gers, and  evidently  persons  from  the  State  of  Kentucky ; 
and  the  further  fact  that  the  colored  people  seemed  to  be 
specially  moved  by  the  apprehensions  of  assault,  which  they 
feared  might  be  coming  upon  them  and  their  friends,  one 
could  very  easily  understand  that  the  mob,  which  had  been 
expected,  was  about  to  show  itself.  Such  fear  proved  to 
be  well  grounded ;  for  about  nine  o'clock,  a  large  ruffianly 
company,  coming  over  from  the  adjacent  towns  of  Ken- 
tucky, called  together  a  large  number  of  the  baser  sort  of 
the  people  of  Cincinnati,  and  opened,  without  the  least  de- 
lay, an  outrageous,  barbarous  and  deadly  attack  upon  the 
entire  class  of  the  colored  people.  They  were  assaulted 
wherever  found  upon  the  streets,  and  with  such  weapons 
and  violence  as  to  cause  death  in  many  cases,  no  respect 
being  had  to  the  character,  position,  or  innocence  of  those 
attacked.  The  only  circumstance  that  seemed  necessary  to 
provoke  assault,  resulting  even  in  death,  was  the  color  of 
the  person  thus  treated. 


64         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

After  the  first  sudden  surprising  attack,  the  colored 
people,  measurably  prepared  for  such  occurrence  by  reason 
of  the  condition  of  public  feeling  manifested  latterly,  as 
already  described,  certainly  in  their  expectations  of  it, 
aroused  themselves,  seized  any  means  of  defence  within 
their  reach,  and  with  manliness  and  courage  met  their  as- 
sailants. One  of  their  number,  Major  Wilkerson,  was 
made  their  leader ;  and  never  did  man  exhibit  on  the  field 
of  danger  greater  coolness,  skill  and  bravery,  than  this 
champion  of  his  people's  cause.  A  negro  himself,  he 
fought  in  self-defence,  and  to  maintain  his  own  rights  as 
well  as  those  of  the  people  whom  he  led.  They  had  full 
confidence  in  his  ability,  sincerity,  courage  and  devotion, 
and  were  ready  to  follow  him  even  to  death.  The  record 
of  the  number  of  deaths  which  occurred  during  that  event- 
ful night,  among  both  the  white  and  the  colored  people, 
can  never  be  made.  It  is  well  known,  however,  that  the 
desperate  fighting  qualities  of  the  latter  class  were  fully 
demonstrated  in  the  great  number  of  fatal  casualties  which 
were  noted.  All  night  the  fight  continued.  Many  of  the 
white  attacking  party  were  carried  directly  from  the  fight 
to  the  grave  ;  and  not  a  few  of  the  colored  men  fell  in 
gallant  manner,  in  the  struggle  which  they  made  in  their 
own  defence. 

Saturday  morning  as  it  dawned  upon  the  stricken  city, 
witnessed  a  lull  in  the  struggle  ;  and  many  felt  and  hoped 
that  the  riot  with  its  frightful  incidents  had  ceased.  But 
the  day  had  not  grown  old  before  by  regulation  of  the  city 
authorities,  swarms  of  improvised  police-officers  appeared  in 
every  quarter,  armed  with  power  and  commission  to  arrest 
every  colored  man  who  could  be  found.  It  was  claimed 
that  these  arrests  were  made  for  the  purpose  of  protecting 
such  persons  against  the  further  attacks  of  the  mob.  Such, 
however,  was  by  no  means  the  case.  The  arrests  were 
made,  and  the  colored  men  were  imprisoned,  because  it  had 
been  thoroughly  shown  by  their  conduct  that  they  had  be- 
come so  determined  to  protect  themselves  against  whatever 
odds,  that  great  and  serious  damage  might  be  expected 


THE  GREAT  CHANGE!  65 

were  they  again  assaulted.  Hundreds  of  them  concealed 
themselves  at  home,  and  in  other  hiding-places,  and  thus 
escaped  arrest. 

Early  in  the  day,  the  family  of  Mr.  John  Woodson,  living 
across  the  canal  in  Broadway,  in  that  part  of  the  city  known 
as  "  Germany,"  and  where  John  boarded  at  the  time,  was 
visited  by  a  colored  neighbor,  who  called  to  tell  Mr.  Wood- 
son  what  was  occurring  as  to  the  arrest  of  the  colored  men  , 
and  to  advise  him  both  to  conceal  himself,  and  to  have  his 
foreman,  Mr.  John  Tinsley,  do  the  same  thing.  The  boy 
waited  to  see  Mr.  Woodson  hide  himself  in  one  chimney  of 
his  house,  and  Mr.  Tinsley  in  another,  when  he  told  them 
both  good-bye  ;  and  leaving  the  house  through  the  back 
yard  and  garden,  jumped  over  the  fence  into  the  alley,  and 
made  his  way  as  rapidly  as  possible,  by  Main  Street,  to  the 
canal  bridge.  He  had  reached  the  middle  of  the  bridge 
crossing  the  canal,  when  he  heard  behind  him  the  voice  of 
officers  ordering  him  to  stop.  Fleet  of  foot,  with  his  speed 
quickened  by  such  orders,  he  ran  with  all  his  might,  with- 
out the  least  abatement  of  his  speed,  over  a  mile,  to  the 
corner  of  Main  and  Fourth  Streets,  where  he  entered  a 
drugstore,  through  which  he  was  compelled  to  pass  to 
reach  his  brother  Gideon.  His  brother  was  concealed  at 
the  time,  with  five  other  colored  men,  employed  by  him  in 
a  barber-shop,  which  he  owned  and  conducted,  located  near 
this  point.  Overcome  by  excitement  and  fatigue,  no 
longer  in  control  of  his  powers,  the  boy  fell  to  the  floor  of 
the  drugstore,  as  if  dead,  alarming  those  in  charge  there, 
who,  seeing  his  condition,  came  at  once  to  his  relief.  He 
was  carried  thence  into  the  rooms  of  his  brother,  just  at 
hand,  where  he  was  cared  for,  with  restoratives  promptly 
administered,  and  soon  recovered  himself. 

His  brother's  shop  was  closed  and  fortified  to  the  extent 
of  his  ability,  as  to  doors  and  windows,  when  it  ought  to 
have  been  opened  and  all  the  men  at  work.  All  found 
there  were  agitated,  disturbed  and  anxious  about  their 
safety.  The  arrival  of  the  boy,  with  such  experience  as  he 
had  to  describe  after  his  recoverv.  did  little,  indeed,  toward 


66         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

reassuring  these  frightened  persons.  They  feared  that  the 
boy  would  be  pursued  and  they  be  found  and  arrested. 
Subsequent  events  showed,  however,  that  the  good  men 
who  kept  the  drugstore  mentioned,  were  watchful  of  their 
interests  and  ready  to  protect  them  against  harm.  As  the 
night  came  on,  and  the  darkness  rendered  it  practicable  to 
do  so,  the  owners  of  the  store  took  John  out  with  them  to 
a  confectionery,  not  far  distant,  where  they  purchased  a 
full  supply  of  needed  edibles,  which,  under  their  care  and 
protection,  he  carried  to  his  brother  and  his  men,  then 
hungiy  enough  from  fasting  for  more  than  fifteen  hours. 

The  diabolism  of  this  mob  reached  its  highest  pitch, 
when  thousands  of  infuriated,  ungovernable  ruffians,  made 
mad  by  their  hatred  of  the  negro  and  his  friends,  came 
down  Main  Street  with  howls,  and  yells,  and  screams,  and 
oaths,  and  vulgarities,  dragging  the  press  of  Dr.  Bailey,  the 
great  Abolition  editor,  which  they  threw,  in  malignant, 
Satanic  triumph,  into  the  river. 

The  days  and  nights  made  memorable  by  the  deeds  here 
detailed,  must  ever  stand  as  the  blackest  and  most  detest- 
able in  the  history  of  the  great  city  of  Cincinnati  !  And 
how  all  the  black  features  which  distinguish  and  intensify 
their  horrid  character,  forever  stand  impressed  upon  the 
memory  of  the  lad  who  witnessed,  as  he  was  terrified  by 
them! 

Such  cowardly  and  unjustifiable  abuse  of  their  white 
friends  and  attack  on  the  colored  men,  did  not  tend  in  the 
slightest  degree  to  destroy  the  growing  anti-slavery  senti- 
ment of  Cincinnati  and  Ohio.  Lewis,  Chase,  Hayes,  Smith 
and  other  great  leaders  of  the  Abolition  movement  were  made 
thereby  the  bolder,  braver,  more  outspoken  and  eloquent 
in  their  utterances  in  such  behalf.  Nor  did  such  treatment 
close  the  lips  and  hush  the  voices  of  the  eloquent  colored 
men  themselves,  who  through  such  experiences,  were  learn- 
ing what  their  rights  were,  and  how  to  advocate  and  defend 
them.  It  was  about  this  time  that  the  black  orator,  John 
I  Gaines,  made  his  debut  upon  the  platform,  pleading  the 
cause  of  his  people;  that  Joseph  Henry  Perkins,  another 


THE  GREAT  CHANGE!  67 

colored  speaker  of  fine  talent  and  great  eloquence,  appeared 
in  his  early  efforts  of  the  same  character;  that  Andrew  J, 
Gordon,  of  the  same  class,  not  only  discovered  signal  ability 
with  his  pen,  but  unusual  power  with  his  tongue,  as  the 
negro's  defender ;  and  that  Gideon  Q.  Langston,  also 
manifested  large  ability  and  learning  with  commanding  and 
surprising  qualities  of  oratory,  in  advocating  the  cause  of 
his  race.  Other  names  of  this  class  might  be  mentioned 
here,  as  fearless  and  able  defenders  of  the  rights  of  their 
people,  all  of  whom,  it  was  the  privilege  and  advantage  of 
the  boy  John  to  hear  and  know,  their  eloquent  efforts  serv- 
ing him  in  large  measure  as  inspiration  and  purpose. 

The  Sabbath  following  these  occurrences  was  one  of  the 
greatest  beauty  and  loveliness.  The  quiet  of  the  city  was 
truly  impressive  ;  and  but  for  the  hundreds  of  horsemen, 
the  mounted  constabulary  forces  found  necessary  to  parade 
the  streets  and  maintain  the  good  order  of  the  city,  while 
protecting  the  lives  of  its  people,  it  would  have  been  a  day 
fit  for  the  calm  and  peaceful  worship  of  our  Heavenly 
Father  in  a  civilized  and  Christian  community.  As  it  was, 
however,  the  horrid  sight  of  the  vast  company  of  such 
policemen,  the  solemn,  awful  tread  and  tramp  of  their 
march,  with  the  recollection  of  the  sad,  dire  events  of  the 
preceding  nights  and  days,  drove  every  feeling  of  love  and 
veneration  out  of  the  hearts  of  those  who  had  thus  been 
outraged  and  terrified. 

Those  were  dark  days  !  And  they  who  still  survive  them, 
may  never  forget  the  circumstances  of  their  occurrence,  and 
the  public  sentiment,  which,  no  longer  prevalent,  made  them 
possible  at  that  time  ! 


CHAPTER  V. 

THE  PROMISE  WHICH  HE  DID   NOT   KEEP. 

JOHN  was  in  attendance  upon  school,  in  the  city  of  Cin- 
cinnati, where  he  had  been  about  one  year,  when  to  his  sur- 
prise Colonel  Gooch  made  him  a  visit,  calling  at  his  school 
rooms.  At  this  time  the  colonel  was  on  his  return  from 
ChilHcothe,  where  he  had  been  to  make  final  settlement  of 
all  business  connected  with  the  sale  and  transfer  of  his  farm. 
He  had  hoped  to  meet  his  former  ward  at  that  place.  When 
he  failed  to  find  him  where  he  had  expected,  he  inquired 
after  him  and  his  whereabouts  ;— determined  to  see  him,  at 
all  events,  and  wherever  he  might  be.  Whatever  might 
have  been  his  own  feelings  in  the  matter,  he  could  not  do 
otherwise  and  comply  with  the  wishes  of  his  wife  and  daugh- 
ter. As  he  alleged,  he  acted  in  obedience  to  the  earnest 
desire  and  request  of  Mrs.  Gooch  and  Virginia,  that  John 
should  be  found  and  his  condition  truthfully  reported  to 
them.  They  were  still  anxious  as  to  his  welfare,  and  de- 
sired to  learn  what  he  was  doing,  and  with  what  prospects 
of  advantage. 

The  boy  was  not  seated  far  from  the  door  at  which  Col- 
onel Gooch  knocked,  and  at  which  he  was  met  by  Mr. 
Goodwin,  one  of  the  teachers.  The  inquiry  was  at  once 
made  of  the  teacher,  "  Have  you  a  young  boy  in  your  school 
by  the  name  of  John  M.  Langston  ?  "  The  boy  caught  the 
tones  of  the  voice  using  such  words,  and  was  moved  by 
their  seeming  familiarity.  Indeed,  they  sent  a  thrill  through 
68 


THE  PROMISE  WHICH  HE  DID  NOT  KEEP.         69 

his  whole  being.  Why,  at  the  moment,  he  did  not  under- 
take to  debate.  Addressing  him  then,  Mr.  Goodwin  said, 
"  John,  a  gentleman  at  the  door  wishes  to  see  you."  He 
stepped  forward  promptly,  when  to  his  surprise  and  pleasure, 
he  found  himself  confronted  by  his  old  guardian,  whose 
demonstrations  of  affection  and  joy  were  ardent  and  abun- 
dant. 

Taking  the  boy  by  the  hand,  while  he  threw  the  other 
arm  about  his  neck  and  shoulders,  they  walked  together  to 
the  steps  leading  down  from  the  street  into  the  school-yard, 
where  seating  themselves,  with  the  boy's  head  drawn  against 
his  friend's  person,  they  remained  in  close,  confidential,  lov- 
ing conversation  for  quite  two  hours.  First  of  all,  their  talk 
was  of  Mrs.  Gooch  and  Virginia,  the  two  persons  above  all 
others  about  whom,  as  was  well  understood,  the  boy  desired 
to  hear.  As  Colonel  Gooch  told  of  them  ;  how  often  they 
called  John's  name,  wondering  where  he  was,  how  he  was, 
what  he  was  doing,  and  whether  he  was  happy,  the  boy's 
heart  was  moved  with  the  deepest  gratitude,  while  his  love 
for  those  thoughtful,  kind  and  affectionate  friends,  who  had 
not  forgotten  him,  was  deepened  and  intensified.  As  he 
described  their  beautiful  home  in  Missouri,  telling  how 
large  his  farm  was,  how  valuable  it  must  soon  become,  since 
the  country  was  being  settled  rapidly  with  good  people 
from  the  South  and  East,  and  declaring  that  the  State  itself, 
in  the  near  future,  would  be  one  of  the  first  of  the  Union, 
he  stirred  the  hopes  and  expectations,  not  less  than  the 
desires  and  love  of  the  youthful  listener. 

He  proceeded  thereafter  to  assure  the  boy  that  Mrs. 
Gooch  and  the  daughter  lacked  only  one  thing  to  make 
them  more  happy,  in  their  new  home,  than  they  had  been  in 
Ohio.  They  loved  the  country  and  the  people  well,  and 
were  greatly  pleased  with  their  surroundings,  generally. 
However,  he  continued,  "  They  made  me  promise  them  that 
I  would  find  you,  and,  in  their  name,  gain  from  you  the 
earnest  and  sure  promise,  that  when  you  reach  your  ma- 
jority, you  will  come  to  us,  and  make  yourself  again  at 
home  with  your  best  friends — those  who  are  ready  to  share 


70         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

all  they  have,  their  very  best  and  most  valuable  things, 
with  you." — "  Mrs.  Gooch,"  he  urged,  "  told  me  not  to  come 
back  without  such  promise";  "and,"  he  added,  "you 
know  Virginia  wants  to  see  you  ,  and  we  would  all  make 
you  welcome.  Our  home  you  will  find  a  lovely  one  ;  and 
we  can  furnish  you  everything  needed  to  make  you  perfectly 
happy.  You  must  come  !  "  These  last  words  were  used 
with  peculiar  tenderness  and  warmth. 

To  this  urgent,  affectionate  appeal,  the  boy,  moved  by 
the  love  he  bore  for  Mrs.  Gooch  and  the  family,  made 
prompt,  sincere  promise,  that  he  would  come,  on  reaching 
his  majority,  to  the  home  of  those  who  had  been  to  him 
in  earlier  days  all  that  he  could  desire  in  loving  devoted 
parents. 

Colonel  Gooch  and  John,  then,  rising,  walked  leisurely  back 
to  the  door  of  the  school ;  and  there  took  affectionate  leave 
of  each  other.  Returning  to  his  studies,  pressed  with  school 
duties,  although  deeply  affected  by  the  unexpected  visit 
which  had  been  made  him,  and  the  promise  which  he 
would  not  forget  nor  neglect,  he  could,  at  most,  give  to 
such  things,  however  important  and  impressive,  but  a  boy's 
thoughts.  He  meant,  nevertheless,  at  the  time,  all  he  had 
said  and  promised  as  to  going  to  Mrs.  Gooch.  For  he  loved 
her;  and  hoped  to  see  her  again  ;  and,  if  possible,  make  her 
happy  in  seeing  the  boy  to  whom  she  seemed  more  his 
mother  than  any  other  woman. 

Time  moved  on  apace  ;  changes  followed  each  other  in 
quick  succession  ;  and  long  before  his  twenty-first  year  had 
been  reached,  the  boy  had  learned  things  of  Missouri  which 
made  him  feel  even  satisfied  enough  that  he  had  not  been 
permitted,  at  first,  to  go  with  his  friends  to  that  State.  He 
had  learned  that  slavery  existed  there  !  He  had  come  to 
understand  that  where  that  institution  was  allowed  and 
fostered,  he  could  have,  really,  no  rights;  and  that  his 
friends  might  not  be  able  to  protect  him  against  approaching 
danger  should  it  come.  He  could  not  consent  to  live  in  a 
State  where  his  personal  liberty  would  be  in  constant, 
imminent  peril.  But  more  than  all  this,  when  he  had 


THE  PROMISE  WHICH  HE  DID  NOT  KEEP.          71 

reached  his  majority,  so  defiant  and  strong  had  the  Slave 
Power  of  the  country  become  in  every  part  of  the  land, 
and  so  audacious  in  its  demands,  that  he  was  afraid  to  go, 
even  for  temporary  purpose,  anywhere  within  its  reach  and 
control. 

He  did  not,  because  he  could  not  safely,  keep  his  promise 
as  given.  And,  when  much  later,  slavery  had  been  abolished 
in  the  State  of  Missouri  and  throughout  the  whole  country, 
the  Gooch  family  could  not  be  found,  not  even  a  single 
member.  The  boy,  who  was  then  a  man,  far  beyond  his  ma- 
jority in  age,  and  still  entertaining  a  deep  regard  and  reverence 
for  his  whilom  friends,  made  earnest,  special  effort  to  find  if 
not  the  family  in  its  original  entirety,  some  member  of  it. 
For,  he  would  manifest,  in  suitable  form  and  manner,  were 
it  possible,  to  anyone  bearing  the  blood  and  lineage  of  a 
family  so  faithful,  loyal  and  true  to  him,  his  deep  and  abid- 
ing appreciation  of  its  feelings  and  conduct. 

During  his  stay  of  two  years  and  a  little  more  in  Cincinnati, 
John  was  by  no  means  an  idle  boy.  Faithful  and  diligent 
in  all  school  duties  for  five  days  in  the  week,  after  he  had 
made  his  home  in  the  family  of  Mr.  William  W.  Watson, 
he  worked  every  Saturday  about  his  barber-shop  and  bath- 
house. He  was  allowed  all  he  could  collect,  voluntarily 
given  by  those  whom  he  served  ;  and  he  discovered  such 
aptness  for  the  service,  with  such  spirit  of  accommodation, 
politeness  and  industry,  that  the  amount  paid  him  often 
aggregated,  as  the  results  of  a  single  day's  labor,  quite  a 
considerable  sum. 

Peter  Watson,  a  brother  of  the  proprietor  of  the  estab- 
lishment, and  Daniel  Marshall,  his  chief  assistant,  were 
John's  good  friends,  and  did  much,  in  the  general  manage- 
ment of  business,  to  call  attention  to  him  and  thus  improve 
his  opportunities  and  advantages.  At  the  close  of  the 
week's  work  on  many  Saturday  nights,  these  persons  would 
not  only  discover  special  interest  in  him  by  inquiries  as  to 
what  his  success  had  been,  rejoicing  with  him  when  it  was 
considerable,  but  they  encouraged  him  often  to  renewed 
effort,  in  view  of  the  growing  results  of  his  energy  and 


72         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

labors.  It  was  frequently  the  case  that  they  praised  him 
for  his  thoughtful  and  intelligent  behavior,  assuring  him 
that  he  might  expect,  should  he  cultivate  properly  such 
elements  of  business  reflection  and  effort  as  marked  his 
conduct,  to  be  a  successful  and  thrifty  man. 

In  this  shop  and  bath-house,  all  business  was  closed 
promptly  at  twelve  o'clock  Saturday  night  ;  and  was  not 
resumed,  for  any  reason  whatever,  or  any  service  however 
urgent,  till  Monday  morning,  at  five  o'clock.  The  proprie- 
tor and  everybody  connected  with  the  service  therein,  were 
scrupulous  in  their  observance  of  the  Sabbath,  and  not  one 
of  them  absented  himself,  as  a  rule,  from  the  church  on  that 
day.  It  will  not  be  difficult  to  comprehend  the  fact,  that 
the  service  of  which  such  men  had  control,  was  conducted 
upon  the  highest  moral  principles ;  and,  in  such  way  as 
that  while  perfect  order  and  decorum  were  maintained, 
every  customer  and  visitor  was  entirely  pleased  and  won. 
The  work,  too,  was  done  in  the  most  skillful  and  satisfactory 
manner.  The  influence  of  all  persons  employed,  and  with 
whom  the  boy  was  brought  in  contact,  was  of  good  effect. 
Naturally  penurious  rather  than  extravagant,  both  in  their 
general  liberal  outlays  and  their  wise  economical  habits, 
they  taught  him  valuable  lessons  with  respect  to  the  ex- 
penditure and  preservation  of  any  money  which  he 
received.  He  was,  therefore,  not  only  possessed  of  a 
reasonable  amount  of  funds,  the  fruit  of  his  own  efforts, 
but  he  constantly  added  thereto,  and  took  delight  in  the 
labors  which  brought  him  such  gains.  It  is  easy  to  per- 
ceive that  the  boy,  now  fond  of  the  position  described,  and 
pleased  with  all  those  connected  with  it,  must  have  given  it 
up  finally  with  no  little  regret. 

It  is  due  John  to  state,  that  the  record  of  good  behavior 
and  study,  which  he  made  under  Messrs.  Goodwin  and 
Denham,  being  well  known,  endeared  him  to  the  teachers 
and  the  pupils  of  the  school.  When  he  was  about  to  leave 
them,  many  attentions  were  paid  to  him,  and  the  warmest 
kindly  expressions  reached  his  ears.  The  families  with 
whom  he  had  lived,  had  formed  for  him  an  affectionate 


THE  PROMISE  WHICH  HE  DID  NOT  KEEP.         73 

friendly  regard  ;  and  expressed,  as  he  bade  them  farewell, 
respectively,  deep  feeling  and  anxiety  for  his  future  pros- 
perity and  happiness.  Both  Mr.  Woodson  and  Mr.  Watson 
urged  him  to  feel  that  their  doors  were  open  always  to 
him  ;  and  that  should  he  ever  visit  the  city,  they  would 
be  pleased  to  have  him  accept  and  enjoy  their  hospitality. 

Business  matters  of  importance  to  him,  which  could  no 
longer  be  postponed,  connected  with  the  settlement  of  his 
father's  estate,  made  it  necessary  for  John  to  return,  with- 
out delay,  to  Chillicothe.  This  he  did.  And  as  soon  there- 
after as  the  Court  of  Common  Pleas  could  convene,  he  was 
required  to  name  a  guardian  for  himself  and  property.  He 
named  to  such  position,  and  the  court  confirmed,  his  half- 
brother,  Mr.  William  Langston. 

From  the  time  he  had  met  this  brother,  in  the  mountains 
of  Old  Virginia,  when  on  his  way  to  Ohio,  John  had  loved 
him  very  greatly.  William,  since  that  time,  in  every  practi- 
cable way  had  given  special  and  constant  attention  to  his 
little  half-brother  ;  and  upon  his  visits  to  him,  which  were 
quite  frequent,  always  brought  him  some  beautiful,  or  inter- 
esting, or  pleasant  thing.  Thus  endeared  to  him,  it  was  al- 
together natural,  under  the  circumstances,  for  John  to 
choose  him  for  his  guardian.  His  brother  Gideon  resided, 
at  the  time,  in  Cincinnati ;  while  his  brother  Charles  was 
away  attending  school  at  Oberlin. 

His  half-brother  had  not  married  as  yet,  and  having  no 
family  of  his  own,  put  his  ward  in  that  of  a  friend  for  board 
and  care.  This  family  consisted  of  an  aged  venerable  man, 
an  equally  aged  kindhearted  wife,  and  a  single  female  do- 
mestic. The  first  two  exerted  themselves  in  every  way  to 
answer  every  want  and  interest  of  the  youth  ;  and  the  do- 
mestic declared  that,  "  she  knew  nothing  but  to  take  care  of 
their  little  Virginia  gentleman."  This  family  was  made  up 
of  Virginians,  and  entertained  the  highest  conceivable  ideas 
of  Virginia  character.  They  really  felt  that  Virginia  alone 
supplied  the  best  looking,  the  best  behaved,  the  most  ex- 
cellent men  and  women,  boys  and  girls.  With  them  Vir- 
ginia blood  was  the  very  best,  and  to  be  proud  of.  Mr.  and 


74         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Mrs.  Harvey  Hawes,  the  persons  here  spoken  of,  have  fallen 
asleep  long,  long,  ago.  Peace  to  their  ashes  !  But  the  do- 
mestic of  whom  mention  is  made,  now  quite  a  hundred 
years  old,  still  lives,  and  is  never  so  happy,  apparently,  as 
when  she  is  occupied  in  telling  curious  anecdotes  of  the 
boy  whom  she  was  wont  to  serve  years  ago.  When  this 
aged  friend,  Aunt  Patsy  Tucker,  shall  die,  a  thousand  good 
people  who  have  known  of  her  virtuous,  Christian,  useful 
life,  will  join  with  the  man  of  whom  she  was  so  fond  as  a 
boy,  in  celebrating  her  deserved  praises. 

While  thus  situated  John  was  once  more  started  to 
school.  He  had  for  his  teacher  at  first  Mr.  George  B. 
Vashon,  who  was,  at  the  time,  a  student  of  Oberlin  College, 
and  a  member  of  its  Junior  college  class.  This  school  \vas 
kept  for  three  months  only  in  the  winter  term.  His  next 
teacher,  for  the  following  winter,  was  Mr.  William  Cuthbert 
Whitehorn,  also  a  student  of  Oberlin  College,  and  one  year 
the  junior  of  the  former  person,  in  his  course  of  study. 
Both  these  young  men  were  colored  persons,  and  were  fa- 
vorably known  as  scholars,  teachers  and  orators.  They 
were  the  first  colored  persons  who  graduated,  regularly, 
from  the  Oberlin  College  ;  the  one  taking  his  first  degree, 
Bachelor-of-Arts,  in  August,  1844 ;  and  the  other  taking  his 
first  degree  of  the  same  character  in  the  following  August, 
1845.  The  influence  exerted  by  these  teachers  upon  their 
pupils  and  the  community  at  large,  was  widespread  and 
salutary.  To  the  more  thoughtful  and  aspiring  scholars  of 
the  school  and  members  of  the  community,  their  examples 
of  application,  diligence,  and  success  in  the  cultivation  of 
scholarly  attainment,  and  the  wise  and  efficient  discharge  of 
the  high  duties  connected  therewith,  were  inspiring  and  en- 
couraging. They  were  the  first  persons  of  their  race,  who 
having  engaged  thus  in  exalted,  various  and  profound  ar- 
tistic and  scientific  study,  had  so  far  accomplished  their 
aims  and  purposes  as  to  reach  the  high  classes  in  a  college 
course,  of  which  they  were  members.  Forerunners,  as  they 
were,  for  a  whole  race,  in  the  ways  of  the  highest  scholar- 
ship, with  their  peculiarly  handsome  endowments  of  man- 


THE  PROMISE  WHICH  HE  DID  NOT  KEEP.          75 

ner  and  address,  winning  while  they  attracted  popular  atten- 
tion and  applause,  they  were  well  calculated  to  exert  a 
large  and  commanding  influence  upon  such  youths  as  were 
brought  within  their  reach. 

It  was  under  these  teachers  that  John  discovered  his 
highest  and  best  elements  of  scholarly  power,  making  such 
impression  that  his  friends  began  to  discuss  seriously  the 
propriety  and  wisdom  of  having  him  take  a  regular  thor- 
ough course  of  college  training.  In  this  discussion  large 
account  was  made  in  favor  of  such  a  course,  of  the  facts 
concerning  the  success  attending  the  efforts  of  the  two  col- 
ored scholars — the  young  persons  who  had  made  such  fav- 
orable impression  as  teachers,  scholars  and  gentlemen  upon 
the  community.  It  may  be  asserted  without  much  doubt, 
that  had  not  Messrs.  Vashon  and  Whitehorn  appeared  in 
Chillicothe  and  pursued  the  course  as  teachers  and  scholars 
indicated,  young  Langston  would  not  in  all  probability, 
have  ever  left  that  town  to  pursue  a  protracted  collegiate 
and  professional  course  of  study  elsewhere.  His  brother 
Charles,  however,  who  had  spent  two  years  in  study  at  Ober- 
lin  College,  favored  this  opinion  and  was  outspoken  and 
positive  in  maintaining  it.  He  had  at  this  time,  just  re- 
turned to  his  home  in  Chillicothe,  all  full  of  college  enthusi- 
asm and  hope  ;  and  his  argument  in  favor  of  such  course  for 
his  young  brother  was  earnest  and  eloquent.  He  even  went 
so  far  in  the  earnestness  of  his  expression  as  to  declare 
"  that  his  brother  was  smart  and  promising,  and  should  be 
as  thoroughly  educated  as  might  be."  Besides,  Mr.  Vashon, 
who  was  then  his  teacher,  a  member  of  the  senior  class  of 
Obcrlin  College,  a  person  of  rare  scholarly  character,  attain- 
ment and  name,  standing  at  the  head  of  his  class  in  every 
study,  and  a  teacher  of  unusual  ability,  supported  Charles  in 
his  views.  Finally  Gideon,  hearing  of  this  debate  and  hav- 
ing himself  known  of  his  brother's  success  and  record  as  a 
pupil  in  the  school  in  Cincinnati,  wrote  favoring  also  such 
opinion.  He  had  full  knowledge  of  his  father's  desires  and 
purpose  as  to  the  education  of  John,  and  the  excellent  op- 
portunities which  Oberlin  College  offered  to  such  end,  as  he 


76        FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

himself  had  spent  a  year  there  in  taking  certain  special  stud- 
ies. His  second  letter  came  very  soon,  addressed  to  John's 
guardian,  advising  that  he  should  be  sent  to  the  college  to 
take  its  preparatory  and  college  courses.  The  guardian  at 
last  consented  to  send  him  for  one  year  ;  believing  as  he 
claimed,  that  his  education  was  already  sufficient,  he  having 
a  reasonable  knowledge  for  his  age  of  reading,  writing, 
grammar,  arithmetic,  geography,  history,  ancient  and  mod- 
ern ;  and  that  the  best  thing  to  be  done  for  him  was  to  put 
him  to  a  good  trade.  Accordingly  provisions  were  made 
for  his  going  to  Oberlin  College,  and  his  stay  there  for  one 
year. 

While  these  matters  were  commanding  the  attention  of 
his  friends,  the  boy  was  advancing  in  handsome  manner 
under  the  tuition  of  his  able  and  skillful  teacher,  whose  sec- 
ond and  last  winter  session  of  the  Chillicothe  colored  school 
was  rapidly  nearing  its  close.  These  occurrences  took  place 
in  the  winter  of  1843-44,  when  John  had  reached  his  four- 
teenth year.  He  was  small  and  light  for  his  age,  but 
nervous  and  enduring.  He  had  put  all  his  powers  to  the 
test  in  this  last  session  of  his  school.  For  his  schoolmates, 
boys  and  girls,  especially  those  of  his  own  classes,  besides 
being  young  persons  of  the  finest  possible  bodily  and  men- 
tal endowment,  had  taken  hold  of  and  pursued  their  studies 
with  zeal  and  purpose.  To  maintain  his  name  and  stand- 
ing it  was  necessary,  therefore,  for  him  to  work  with  his 
entire  devotion  and  strength. 

At  the  close  of  the  school,  the  record  which  he  had 
made  was  shown  to  be  high ;  and  he  was  specially  honored 
in  the  public  exercises  which  were  given.  In  these  he 
appeared  to  good  advantage ;  and  won  the  public  commen- 
dation of  his  teacher  and  the  Board  of  Managers  of  the 
school.  More  than  this,  his  guardian  commended  him  in 
unstinted  praise ;  while  his  brother  Charles,  after  listening 
to  his  declamation  and  witnessing  its  pleasing  effects,  said 
to  him,  "You  have  in  you,  John,  all  the  elements  of  an 
orator." 


CHAPTER  VI. 

HE  GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE. 

LEAVING  Chillicothe  Thursday  morning,  March  i,  1844, 
it  was  not  until  one  o'clock  in  the  morning  of  the  following 
Sunday,  that  Mr.  George  B.  Vashon  and  his  former  pupil 
reached  the  hotel,  the  only  one  then  in  the  incorporated 
village  of  Oberlin.  It  was  only  after  considerable  knocking 
and  calling  that  they  succeeded  in  gaining  admission  and 
securing  entertainment.  The  last  forty-eight  miles  of  their 
journey,  from  Mansfield  to  Oberlin,  were  difficult  and 
severe,  by  reason  of  the  depth  of  mud  and  the  well-nigh 
impassable  condition  of  the  roads.  It  took  them  from  five 
o'clock  in  the  morning,  the  hour  at  which  they  left  Mans- 
field, to  the  hour  named,  to  make  the  distance  indicated. 
They  were  compelled  to  employ  a  team  and  wagon,  at 
extravagant  cost,  to  do  even  this.  Railroads  were  not  then 
known  in  Ohio,  furnishing  to  the  ordinary  traveller  speed 
and  comfort,  at  reasonable  rates. 

The  Sabbath  morning  of  their  arrival,  though  the  streets 
and  sidewalks  of  the  town  were  wet  and  muddy,  and  to  a 
stranger  wholly  forbidding,  afforded  opportunity  to  see  the 
community  in  one  of  its  peculiar  and  most  active  condi- 
tions. By  nine  o'clock  everybody  seemed  to  be  upon  the 
streets,  pressing  on,  with  earnest  purpose  depicted  in  his 
face,  looking  neither  to  the  right  nor  left,  in  the  effort 
which  he  was  making  to  get  either  to  the  early  prayer- 
meeting  or  the  Sabbath-school.  At  that  time  in  Oberlin, 

6  77 


78        FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

the  whole  community  was  moved  by  its  deep  religious  sen- 
timent, and  spared  no  effort,  as  it  spared  no  sacrifice,  to 
maintain  every  Christian,  spiritual  instrumentality  calcu- 
lated to  impress  and  save  those  coming  to  live  in  its  midst. 

Mr.  Vashon  was  familiar,  of  course,  with  the  sight  pre- 
sented, and  made  haste  to  advise  his  boy  friend,  that  he 
must  soon  adjust  himself  to  this  new  order  of  things,  would 
he  make  the  most  of  his  Oberlin  life,  in  intellectual,  moral 
and  spiritual  progress.  However,  the  most  remarkable  and 
the  most  impressive  sight  had  not  yet  been  witnessed.  If 
the  whole  community  seemed  to  be  in  motion  at  the  early 
hour  mentioned,  it  is  a  fact  that  it  was  in  actual  movement 
when  the  time  came  for  going  to  church. 

At  half-past  ten  o'clock,  the  chapel  bell  was  tolled. 
The  crowd  which  had  hitherto  appeared  on  the  streets, 
and  impressed  the  stranger  as  being  large,  seemed  small  now, 
as  compared  with  the  vast  swelling  company  of  students 
and  people  pressing  to  the  great  church,  the  only  one  in  the 
place.  Here  the  greatest  pulpit  orator  at  that  time  was  to 
deliver  one  of  his  thrilling,  matchless  discourses.  To  this 
church,  Mr.  Vashon  conducted  his  protege",  telling  him  on 
the  way  how  he  would  see  and  hear  what  it  had  never  been 
his  good  fortune  to  have  come  within  his  personal  knowl- 
edge. What  he  said  in  such  regard  was  soon  made  the 
inexpressible,  pleasing  experience  of  the  youth. 

How  the  singing  of  the  great  choir  of  the  church,  in 
which  more  than  a  hundred  voices  were  blended,  sustained 
by  instruments  of  vast  compass  and  power,  and  yet  with 
tone  sweet  and  soul-moving,  impressed  and  charmed  his 
youthful  mind  !  How  the  touching,  effective,  eloquent 
rendition  of  the  Scripture  lesson  made  by  the  faultless, 
incomparable  elocutionist,  Prof.  John  Morgan,  led  him  to 
see  new  beauties  and  gain  new  ideas  from  the  ever-memor- 
able passage  of  the  Sermon  on  the  Mount,  made  doubly 
dear  to  him,  as  he  recollected  how  Virginia  Gooch  had 
taught  him  to  read  and  value  it !  The  deepest  effect  how- 
ever was  produced  upon  his  mind,  when  the  reader  had 
reached  and  pronounced  these  matchless  words: 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  79 

"  And  why  take  ye  thought  for  raiment  ?  Consider  the  lilies  of  the  field,  how 
"  they  grow;  they  toil  not,  neither  do  they  spin  :  And  yet  I  say  unto  you,  that 
"  even  Solomon  in  all  his  glory  was  not  arrayed  like  one  of  these." 

The  tender  sensibility  of  the  reader,  expressed  in  the 
accents  of  his  voice,  moved  the  souls  of  his  hearers,  in  such 
manner  and  to  such  effect,  as  to  fill  their  eyes  and  moisten 
their  cheeks  with  tears. 

When  the  orator  of  the  occasion  stepped  forward,  the 
attention  of  the  audience  while  every  eye  was  turned 
towards  him,  became,  as  shown  in  the  faces  of  the  people, 
intensified.-  The  announcement  of  his  text  and  its  rendi- 
tion, were  a  sermon.  However,  in  his  exposition  and 
illustration  of  the  Truth,  as  contained  in  the  passage  of 
Scripture  which  he  read,  he  occupied  quite  an  hour  and  a 
half,  during  which  time  the  vast  assembly  gave  profound- 
est  attention  to  every  word  he  uttered,  hearing  him  appar- 
ently as  if  for  life  itself.  An  intermission  of  three-quarters 
of  an  hour  followed  his  discourse. 

Every  man,  woman  and  child  then  came  again  to  the 
church,  to  hear  the  last  words  of  the  moving  eloquent 
utterance  of  the  Rev.  Charles  G.  Finney.  He  continued 
the  discourse  commenced  by  him  in  the  morning,  displaying 
in  its  further  treatment  and  application,  in  the  afternoon, 
a  power  marvelous  and  indescribable.  The  wild  torrents 
which  sweep  the  sea ;  the  mighty  storms  that  lay  in  utter 
waste  mountains  and  plains,  may  be  as  easily  described  as  the 
fetterless  and  bounding  power  which  moved  this  irresistible, 
vanquishing  son  of  eloquence. 

John  had  never  heard  such  preaching.  He  had  never 
had  his  soul  moved  by  such  utterance.  Like  all  others 
who  had  been  listening,  at  the  close  of  the  meeting  he  left 
the  house  so  impressed  that  he  moved  away  in  silence,  seem- 
ingly afraid  to  speak.  Thus  he  commenced  his  life  in 
Oberlin  ;  and  the  impressions  made  upon  his  mind  by  the 
observations  and  experiences  of  his  first  Sabbath  there, 
were  so  indelibly  written  in  his  thoughts  and  memory,  that 
no  lapse  of  time,  or  worldly  care,  has  been  able  to  efface 
them. 


8o    FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

On  the  following  day,  as  conducted  to  the  office  of  the 
secretary  and  treasurer  of  Oberlin  College,  and  introduced 
to  Mr.  Hamilton  Hill,  who  held  that  office,  by  Mr.  Vashon, 
young  Langston  settled  his  tuition  and  incidental  expenses, 
according  to  rule,  and  arranged  for  his  studies  and  classes. 
When  asked  what  studies  he  would  pursue,  whether  English 
branches,  or  Greek  and  Latin,  as  he  hesitated  a  little,  his 
old  teacher  answered  for  him,  saying,  "  He  will  study  Greek 
and  Latin,  taking  up  the  grammars  of  those  languages  at 
once."  Arrangements  were  made  for  his  location  in  classes, 
accordingly,  and  he  did  enter  upon  such  studies. 

Then  followed  a  visit  to  the  house  of  Prof.  George  Whip- 
pie.  In  introducing  the  new  student  to  this  learned  pro- 
fessor of  mathematics,  Mr.  Vashon  expressed  the  hope  that 
in  taking  him  into  his  house  and  family,  consenting  to  act 
as  his  guardian  and  protector  while  at  school,  he  would  find 
him  obedient,  docile  and  agreeable.  The  professor  received 
his  prospective  ward  and  the  future  inmate  of  his  family 
with  every  manifestation  of  kindly  feeling,  assuring  him, 
that  so  far  as  his  treatment  was  concerned,  while  under  his 
watchful  care  and  under  his  roof,  everything  should  be  done 
to  make  his  sojourn  pleasant  and  advantageous. 

At  this  point,  as  Mr.  Vashon  was  leaving,  Mrs.  Whipple, 
the  wife  of  the  professor,  came  in  and  was  introduced  to 
the  student  who  was  to  take  his  place  from  that  day  at  her 
table  and  make  his  home  in  her  house.  A  woman  of  supe- 
rior appearance  and  personal  attractions,  handsomely  en- 
dowed in  every  sense  by  nature,  highly  educated  and 
cultured,  of  pleasing  manner  and  address,  the  near  relative 
of  the  great  Daniel  Webster,  she  made  the  happiest  possible 
impression  at  once  upon  the  youth.  She  had  but  com- 
menced conversation  with  him,  inquiring  as  to  his  studies 
and  classes,  when  the  daughter  of  the  family  appeared,  and 
John  was  introduced  to  her.  It  was  found  to  his  delight 
upon  explanations  which  he  had  made  to  the  mother,  that 
he  would  be  in  the  same  classes  with  her  daughter. 

While  such  occurrences  were  transpiring  in  the  study  of 
Prof.  Whipple,  a  person,  as  directed  bv  Mr.  Vashon,  came 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  81 

to  the  door  bringing  the  young  man's  trunk,  which  was 
carried  directly  to  the  room  in  the  second  story  of  the 
building,  where  he  was  to  find  his  quarters.  There  was 
only  time  given  for  the  most  hurried  survey  of  the  room, 
its  furniture  and  conveniences,  all  of  which  made  pleasant 
impression  upon  the  prospective  occupant,  when  dinner 
was  announced.  Promptly  the  members  of  the  family,  and 
students,  boarders  and  inmates,  gathered  in  the  dining-room, 
and  each  took  the  seat  at  the  table  appropriated  to  him  or 
her.  There  was  a  single  vacancy,  and  this  was  allotted  to  the 
new-comer.  He  took  it  as  directed  and  found  himself  near 
the  lady  of  the  house,  just  to  her  left,  with  a  noted  female 
teacher  and  scholar,  Miss  Mary  True,  seated  immediately 
beyond  him  to  his  left.  Seated  thus  and  a  stranger  in 
whom  no  little  interest  centered,  he  was  so  thoroughly 
questioned,  especially  by  these  ladies,  that  even  if  he  had 
not  been  greatly  embarrassed,  he  could  not  have  found 
time  for  eating  his  meal  and  relieving  fully  his  boyish  appe- 
tite, for  all  meals  were  closed  promptly. 

However,  as  the  days  passed  and  he  made  the  acquaint- 
ance and  the  friendship  of  the  entire  family,  he  became 
wholly  at  home  and  at  ease  in  his  most  agreeable  surround- 
ings. Besides  himself,  there  was  in  this  family  but  a  single 
other  colored  person — a  young  lady  very  cordially  treated 
by  all,  because  of  her  excellent  behavior  and  her  natural, 
appropriate  bearing.  Situated  thus,  brought  in  contact 
constantly  with  pleasant  persons,  associating  daily  with  con- 
genial classmates,  with  every  influence  exerted  upon  him 
calculated  to  develop  and  sustain  his  scholarly  qualities  and 
character,  young  Langston  passed  his  first  year  at  Oberlin 
College,  pursuing  with  assiduity  and  vigor  the  study  of  the 
Greek  and  Latin  languages,  advanced  arithmetic  and 
algebra,  with  such  lessons  in  the  Bible  and  instructions  in 
elementary  exercises  of  rhetoric  as  were  given  at  that  time 
in  the  preparatory  department,  to  students  fitting  them- 
selves for  examination  and  entry  of  the  regular  college 
course. 

By  this  time  his  taste  for  study,  with  more   matured  pur- 


82         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

pose  as  to  his  general  and  thorough  culture,  had  grown  and 
developed  itself,  and  he  had  been  moved  by  an  earnest  de- 
sire and  serious  determination  to  secure  for  himself  at  all 
hazards  a  complete  academic,  collegiate  and  professional 
education.  At  the  end  of  the  fall  term  of  the  college,  he 
bade  his  teachers,  fellow-students  and  friends  good-bye,  in 
the  assurance,  in  his  own  mind,  that  he  would  meet  them 
again  at  the  opening  of  the  spring  term  of  1845. 

Returning  to  Chillicothe  from  Oberlin,  in  obedience  to 
the  orders  of  his  guardian,  John  spent  two  weeks  with  his 
brother  Charles,  at  his  quarters  and  as  his  visitor.  While 
there  a  committee  of  colored  men  coming  from  Hicks' 
Settlement,  eight  miles  away  in  the  country,  called  upon 
Mr.  Charles  H.  Langston  to  advise  with  him  as  to  the  em- 
ployment of  a  school-teacher  for  the  Settlement  during  the 
winter.  They  desired  to  have  the  school  open  on  the  first 
Monday  of  November,  and  continue  through  to  the  first 
day  of  the  following  February,  three  full  months.  They 
were  able  to  pay  the  teacher  for  his  services  ten  dollars  per 
month  in  cash,  and  furnish  him  board,  as  he  consented  to 
pass  a  week  in  each  family  patronizing  the  school,  repeating 
his  visits  to  the  various  families  as  necessity  might  require. 
Finally  they  asked  their  adviser,  upon  his  approval  of  their 
plan  of  opening  and  conducting  their  school,  to  name  some 
suitable  person  whom  they  might  employ  as  teacher.  He 
was  not  able  to  name  for  them  such  person  as  he  believed 
by  reason  of  his  age,  experience  and  attainments  was  quali- 
fied to  serve  them  in  such  way  as  might  be  desirable.  One 
of  them  finally  inquired  whether  his  young  brother  could 
not  be  employed.  He  replying,  told  them  frankly  that  he 
thought  whatever  might  be  his  brother's  accomplishments, 
he  was  too  young  and  too  small  to  undertake  to  teach  and 
manage  their  school.  He  was  told  that  the  school  would 
be  easily  managed  ;  that  it  would  be  composed  chiefly  of 
young  men  and  young  girls,  who  would  be  diligent  in  study 
and  well-behaved  ;  and  that  the  work  of  the  teacher  would 
consist,  mainly,  in  hearing  recitations  and  making  necessary 
explanations  in  the  elementary  English  branches  of  spelling, 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  83 

reading,  arithmetic,  geography  and  writing.  To  this  Mr. 
Langston  replied  that  his  brother  was  near  at  hand,  and 
could  be  seen  and  consulted. 

John  was  called ;  and  on  being  introduced  to  the  persons 
composing  the  committee,  after  full  explanation  by  them, 
with  reply  by  him,  with  his  brother  Charles  to  counsel  all 
concerned,  the  young  man  was  employed  upon  the  terms 
already  stated,  and  agreed  to  open  the  school  promptly 
on  the  morning  of  the  first  Monday  of  the  following 
November. 

As  agreed,  young  Langston  one  month  before  he  had 
reached  his  sixteenth  year,  or  thereabout,  commenced  his 
labors  as  a  country  school-teacher.  He  was  the  smallest 
person  in  the  school  save  a  single  boy,  Samuel  Cox.  His 
attention  was  in  no  important  sense  required  for  matters  of 
discipline,  and  after  the  ringing  of  his  bell  for  opening  in 
the  morning,  or  at  noon,  not  the  least  possible  disorder  of 
any  sort  could  be  noted  to  disturb  or  annoy  the  teacher  or 
any  pupil.  Thus  for  the  full  three  months  of  the  term, 
everything  in  the  school  moved  on  to  the  entire  satisfaction 
of  all  interested. 

Only  one  week  had  passed,  when  a  gentleman  residing  in 
the  Settlement  five  miles  from  the  schoolhouse,  the  father 
of  a  young  son  to  whom  he  would  have  special  instruction 
given  because  he  was  too  young  and  small  to  attend  school 
in  the  winter  season,  and  who  desired  also  to  secure  for 
himself  lessons  in  reading  and  explanation  of  the  Bible, 
proposed  to  the  teacher  to  give  him  his  board  in  his  own 
family,  and  keep  and  care  for  his  horse,  provided  he  would 
teach  as  indicated  himself  and  his  son.  This  proposition  of 
Mr.  John  Jackson,  a  man  of  prominence  among  his  class, 
whose  home  was  in  all  respects  pleasant,  and  whose  influ- 
ence was  worth  a  great  deal  to  any  teacher  in  the  Settle- 
ment, was  accepted.  Thereafter,  in  addition  to  his  daily 
duties  in  the  schoolroom,  the  young  teacher  gave  attention 
every  morning  and  evening  to  these  scholars  at  their  home. 
His  success  in  this  regard  rewarded  his  labors  in  manifold, 
pleasant  manner. 


84         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Every  month  as  it  closed,  was  marked  by  a  visit  from 
one  or  the  other  of  the  three  persons  composing  the  com- 
mittee, by  whose  authority  in  the  name  of  the  community 
the  teacher  had  been  employed.  The  object  of  such  visit 
was  not  only  to  learn  the  condition  of  the  school,  but  to 
bring  to  the  teacher  as  collected  from  its  patrons  the 
amount  due  him  monthly  for  his  services.  The  ten  dollars 
paid  him  consisted  in  the  main  of  five-  and  ten-cent  pieces, 
with  a  few  coppers,  sometimes  a  twenty-five  cent  piece,  but 
at  no  time  a  larger  one,  the  money  being  always  the  very 
identical  coins  collected  by  voluntary  payment  of  the  sup- 
porters of  the  school.  It  is  to  be  remembered  that  at  this 
time  there  were  no  public-schools  provided  in  Ohio  for 
colored  persons,  and  no  public  money  given  for  the  support 
of  any  schools  which  they  might  establish  among  them- 
selves for  the  education  of  their  children.  So  far  as  such 
education  was  concerned,  it  depended  wholly  upon  their 
own  efforts  and  their  own  special  outlays.  It  will  be 
understood  then,  that  the  organization  of  the  committee 
named,  and  the  establishment  of  this  school  with  the 
employment  of  the  teacher,  depended  entirely  upon  the 
enterprise  and  purpose  of  the  colored  people,  composing, 
mainly,  the  population  of  the  Settlement. 

Having  no  demands  of  any  kind  upon  him,  whether  for 
board,  washing  or  other  necessity,  and  having  in  fact  no 
opportunity  for  spending  his  money  had  he  been  moved 
by  desire  to  do  so,  young  Langston  closed  the  three 
months  term  of  his  first  school  with  every  cent  of  his 
thirty  dollars  kept  in  the  very  money  which  had  been  paid 
him. 

The  closing  exercises  of  the  school  consisted  of  examina- 
tions upon  studies  which  had  been  pursued,  with  simple 
rhetorical  performances  such  as  compositions,  declamations 
and  discussion.  Such  exercises  were  largely  attended,  and 
the  scholars  and  patrons  manifested  special  interest  in 
them.  They  took  place  on  the  afternoon  of  the  last  day  of 
the  term  ;  and  since  the  school  had  been  kept  in  a  building 
provided  and  used  for  church  purposes,  the  accommoda- 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  8$ 

tions  for  a  large  gathering  were  very  convenient  and  satis- 
factory. 

The  expressions,  formal  and  other,  made  in  brief  addresses 
heard  from  several  leading  patrons  of  the  school,  with  re- 
spect to  its  management  by  the  committee  and  the  conduct 
of  the  teacher,  were  in  every  way  agreeable,  especially  as 
they  were  received  by  the  most  cordial  endorsement  of  the 
great  assembly.  After  taking  leave  of  his  scholars  and 
thanking  both  them  and  the  patrons  of  the  school  for  their 
kind,  considerate  treatment,  the  teacher  closed  his  services 
in  the  midst  of  great  popular  applause. 

Going  directly  to  Mr.  Jackson's  house  on  the  way  toward 
town,  he  tarried  there  for  a  short  time  only.  Here  he  had 
made  his  home,  and  by  the  family  had  been  treated  in  the 
most  kindly,  hospitable  manner.  He  went  at  once  to  his 
room,  where  he  counted  and  arranged  the  money  which  had 
been  paid  him,  in  the  most  convenient  condition  for  carry- 
ing it  with  him  on  horseback  to  Chillicothe.  Carefully 
wrapping  it  in  a  newspaper,  he  made  it  even  more  secure 
by  tying  it  up  tightly  in  the  best  white  pocket  handkerchief 
which  he  owned.  His  horse  stood  ready  for  him  at  the 
door.  As  he  descended  the  stairway  he  met  in  the  hall  and 
sitting-room  the  good  school  committee  with  a  few  friends, 
who,  on  their  way  home  stopped  to  express  their  cordial 
regards  for  him,  and  to  offer  their  thanks  for  the  earnestness 
and  diligence  with  which  he  had  served  as  their  teacher. 
Having  paid  his  respects  to  each  one,  expressing  in  the 
warmest  terms  his  feeling  of  gratitude  to  the  committeemen 
and  Mr.  Jackson  and  his  family,  he  left  the  house  with  his 
package  of  money  in  his  hand.  Inconvenient  as  he  found  it 
in  mounting  the  horse,  he  handed  it  to  Mr.  Jackson  who 
stood  near  by,  with  the  request  that  he  hold  it.  As  he  took 
it  he  smiled,  seemingly  amused  at  the  care  with  which  the 
owner  handled  it ;  expressing  his  deep  regret  as  he  returned 
it  to  him,  now  seated  upon  his  horse,  that  it  was  so  small  in 
amount  though  large  in  bulk.  The  feeling  which  moved 
the  teacher  himself  was  his  thankfulness  that,  even  if  it  was 
large  in  bulk  and  small  in  amount,  it  was  his,  and  the  fruits- 
of  his  own  labors. 


86         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

He  had  borrowed  for  his  school  service  a  fine  animal  of 
his  brother  Charles,  and  as  he  rode  into  town  on  this  crea- 
ture, with  his  first  school-teaching  experience  impressed  fav- 
orably upon  his  mind,  his  money  held  tightly  in  his  hand, 
and  his  prospect  of  an  early  pleasing  report  to  be  made  to 
his  brother  and  to  his  guardian,  he  did  in  fact  exhibit  in 
word  and  conduct  feelings  of  pride  with  a  little  sense  of 
self-sufficiency.  His  brother  Charles  and  his  guardian  gave 
diligent  attention,  each,  to  the  account  which  he  gave  of  his 
experience  and  success  as  a  teacher,  and  rejoiced  with 
him  in  the  good  results  which  had  rewarded  his  first  efforts. 

Not  many  days  after  his  return  he  was  visiting  his  brother 
Charles  at  his  home  in  Chillicothe,  when  the  teacher  of  the 
city  colored  school,  Mr.  Samuel  Deveaux,  successor  in  that 
service  to  Mr.  George  B.  Vashon,  called  to  see  whether  he 
could  secure  the  services  of  Mr.  Langston  to  take  charge  of 
his  school  for  two  or  three  weeks.  Important,  pressing 
business  required  his  attention  and  presence  in  another  part 
of  the  State,  and  to  secure  release  he  must  supply  his  sub- 
stitute in  the  school.  In  reply  to  Mr.  Deveaux's  request 
Mr.  Langston  stated  that  he  could  not  serve  him ;  but 
jocosely  remarked  to  him,  "  John  is  the  teacher  of  our  fam- 
ily ;  he  has  just  accomplished  what  he  considers  a  feat  in 
teaching  the  school  in  Hicks'  Settlement,  and  his  success 
there  has  made  him  quite  bold  enough  and  self-reliant  to 
attempt  almost  anything  in  the  line  of  school-teaching." 
The  young  man  was  present  and  heard  these  comments  of 
his  good  brother,  when  he  felt  not  a  little  rebuked,  and 
would  have  been  glad  had  he  been  permitted  to  make  an- 
swer and  explanation  in  his  own  defence.  Mr.  Deveaux 
turning  to  him  without  the  least  hesitation,  asked  him  to 
take  his  school,  promising  to  pay  him  for  two  weeks'  work 
two-thirds  of  what  he  had  received  for  three  months.  At 
first  he  refused,  as  he  knew  that  the  school  was  largely  made 
up  of  boys  and  girls  who  had  been  his  playmates  and  school- 
fellows. He  knew,  too,  that  several  of  the  scholars  were 
generally  unruly  and  difficult  of  management.  But  Mr. 
Deveaux  pressed  him,  assuring  him  that  he  would  leave  the 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  87 

school  in  such  condition  that  he  would  have  no  trouble. 
He  had  confidence  enough  in  his  ability  to  do  the  teaching. 
He  feared  only  that  the  boys  and  girls  might  form  a  com- 
bination of  such  strength  and  purpose  as  to  overcome  and 
set  at  naught  any  effort  which  he  might  make  to  maintain 
good  order  and  discipline. 

Finally,  as  greatly  persuaded  by  Mr.  Deveaux  and 
assured  by  him  that  he  would  have  no  trouble,  with  an  en- 
couraging word  from  his  brother  Charles,  he  consented  to 
take  the  school  for  two  weeks  from  the  following  Monday 
morning,  or  until  the  teacher  should  return,  not  exceeding 
three  weeks.  As  he  entered  the  schoolhouse  at  the  ap- 
pointed time,  the  pupils,  especially  those  of  the  more  ad- 
vanced classes,  who  had  known  him,  manifested  a  goodly 
degree  of  kind  feeling  towards  him.  In  fact,  all  things 
were  commenced  smoothly  and  moved  off  in  excellent 
order.  The  two  weeks  soon  passed,  and  with  the  excep- 
tion of  a  severe  punishment  administered  to  one  of  the 
smartest  and  one  of  the  most  mischievous  small  boys  of  the 
school,  nothing  occurred  to  render  his  experience  in  his  sec- 
ond attempt  at  managing  a  school  unpleasant  or  regretful. 
On  his  return,  Mr.  Deveaux  complimented  the  young 
teacher,  and  after  thanking,  paid  him  according  to  promise. 
The  sum  which  he  had  thus  gained,  added  to  the  thirty 
dollars  which  he  had  already  earned  and  collected,  aggre- 
gated fifty  dollars,  as  his  first  winter's  earnings  at  school- 
teaching.  With  this  amount  in  his  possession,  moved  by  the 
consciousness  of  his  success,  he  became  greatly  inspirited 
and  encouraged,  and  was  more  than  ever  inclined  to  be 
proud  of  his  achievement  and  ambitious  to  do  even  greater 
things. 

It  was  the  rule  at  Oberlin  College  at  this  time,  to  have 
the  long  vacation  of  the  school  during  the  winter  months,  so 
that  any  students  desiring  to  engage  in  teaching  for  such 
term,  either  in  public  or  private  schools,  could  do  so. 
This  regulation  proved  to  be  of  the  greatest  possible  bene- 
fit to  all  interested  ;  for  it  not  only  gave  opportunity  to 
those  teaching  to  increase  their  means,  but,  where  success 


88         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

attended  their  efforts,  to  promote  their  desire  and  determin- 
ation to  make  the  most  of  themselves  as  scholars  and  use- 
ful members  of  society. 

The  time  had  arrived  when  decision  must  be  made  with 
regard  to  John's  future  course  of  life.  According  to  the 
law  and  public  sentiment,  for  the  time  being  at  least,  under 
age  as  he  was,  this  decision  must  be  determined  by  his 
guardian,  who  had  control  both  of  his  person  and  his  prop- 
erty. The  year  before  that  person  had  consented  to  his 
going  to  Oberlin  College  for  nine  months  or  a  single 
academical  year,  and  had  determined  then  that  he  must 
thereafter  go  to  a  trade. 

William  Langston  was  a  thoughtful  man.  It  was  a  rare 
thing  to  find  him  talkative.  He  must  be  deeply  interested 
in  any  subject,  with  his  feelings  greatly  moved  in  view  of 
it,  to  draw  from  him  many  words.  When  he  had  reached 
conclusions  upon  any  matter,  he  held  his  judgment  with 
tenacity,  and  refused  to  surrender  or  modify  it  till  he  had 
exhausted  every  resource  in  its  defence.  He  was  not  a 
man  of  large  logical  ability,  nor  nice  and  extended  sagacity. 
It  was  not  always  the  case  that  he  predicated  his  opinion 
upon  sufficient  knowledge,  while  regardful  of  the  ultimate 
moral  effect  which  might  follow  its  adoption.  Besides,  he 
was  not  possessed  of  such  fulness  of  even  English  educa- 
tion, nor  had  he  such  observation  of  men  and  things,  nor 
had  he  gathered  such  general  information  from  ordinary- 
reading  or  advantageous  association,  as  to  give  him  liber- 
ality and  accuracy  in  regard  to  any  subject  of  large, 
special  importance,  concerning  which  differences  might 
exist  in  ingenuous  minds.  His  judgment  therefore,  even 
where  he  might  otherwise  be  generous  and  just,  concern- 
ing the  life  and  education  of  a  young  man  prompted  by 
exalted  aspiration  in  keeping  with  his  natural  ambition, 
must  be  taken  with  due  vigilance  and  care.  Hence,  it  was 
not  unnatural  for  him  at  the  time  when  it  was  necessary  to 
make  decision  with  regard  to  the  education  of  his  ward, 
especially  in  the  light  of  the  influences  then  operative  upon 
his  mind,  to  be  at  fault  on  such  subject.  And  it  was  very 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  89 

fortunate  for  the  one  who  was  most  concerned  in  such 
transaction,  to  find  near  him  a  bold,  fearless  advocate,  who 
would  sustain,  in  his  desires  and  purposes,  the  youth  who 
by  education  and  culture  would  fit  himself  for  exalted 
place  of  usefulness  and  influence. 

Two  things  conspired  to  save  young  Langston  from  a 
course  of  life  which  might  have  doomed  him  to  such  con- 
ditions of  ordinary  mechanical  labor  as  would  have  thwarted 
every  aim  of  his  ambition  and  choice  of  his  taste  and  judg- 
ment. In  the  first  place,  his  brother  Charles,  a  man  though 
comparatively  young,  of  sound  English  attainment,  large 
reading,  and  general  information  gathered  from  contact  as 
well  as  study,  knew  the  value  of  education  and  how  much 
depended  in  life  upon  sustaining  and  directing  rather 
than  opposing  and  crossing  the  natural  inclination,  the 
moral  trend  of  a  young  person.  Besides,  he  knew  and  ap- 
preciated the  fact  that  his  brother  had  been  sent  by  direc- 
tion of  his  father  even  in  his  childhood  to  Ohio,  that  he 
might  secure  a  liberal  education — the  best  furnished  at  that 
time  by  any  school  to  one  of  his  class.  Such  views  as  a 
person  of  his  character  and  knowledge  would  entertain  on 
the  subject  his  brother  urged  in  favor  of  John's  return  to 
Oberlin  College,  emphasizing  the  fact  that  he  had  so  far 
discovered  application  and  diligence  as  a  student,  with 
great  docility  and  obedience,  and  had  made  such  progress  in 
study  generally,  as  to  indicate  what  he  might  accomplish 
even  in  the  higher  walks  of  social  and  professional  life  were 
he  given  the  opportunity  to  which  his  talents  and  circum- 
stances entitled  him. 

The  second  circumstance  that  operated  greatly  in  favor 
of  John's  return  to  Oberlin,  was  found  in  the  letter  which 
Prof.  George  Whipple  had  sent  by  him  to  his  guardian  on 
his  return  to  Chillicothe.  The  professor  stated  in  the  letter 
that  his  conduct  and  his  progress  in  study  while  at  Oberlin, 
justified  the  opinion  that  he  should  be  sent  back  and  given 
a  full  and  thorough  course  of  collegiate  training.  To  this 
letter,  and  the  opinion  of  a  person  so  well  qualified  for  its 
expression,  his  brother  finally  referred  with  special  and 


90         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

decisive  effects,  so  moving  the  guardian  that  he  said,  with 
entire  earnestness  and  good  feeling,  "  John  shall  decide  for 
himself." 

Permitted  thus  to  speak  for  himself,  the  young  man  said, 
"  I  will  return  to  Oberlin,  and  fit  myself  as  thoroughly  as 
may  be  at  once  to  enter  college  and  take  the  college 
course."  The  guardian  who  had  at  best  small  confidence 
in  such  education,  with  larger  faith  in  a  trade  for  a  boy,  put 
to  his  ward  the  question,  "  Then,  what  will  you  do  ? " 
Without  waiting  for  an  answer,  he  spoke  of  Mr.  George 
B.  Vashon,  who  had  graduated  the  past  August  from  Ober- 
lin College,  asking,  "  What  will  he  do  ?  "  Then  he  men- 
tioned Mr.  William  Cuthbert  Whitehorn,  who  would  gradu- 
ate from  the  same  college  at  the  next  August  Commence- 
ment, asserting  "  that  the  only  thing  which  he  would  be 
able  to  do  really,  was  to  return  to  the  West  India  Islands, 
from  which  he  had  come  to  the  United  States,  and  perhaps 
he  might  find  something  there  to  do."  To  all  this  his 
brother  Charles  made  quick  and  earnest  reply,  saying, 
"  Time  will  take  care  of  the  boy's  interests  !  Let  us  do  our 
duty ! " 

This  conference  and  discussion  held  by  the  kinsmen  of 
the  boy,  the  guardian  who  was  his  half-brother  and  Charles 
his  whole,  resulted  at  last  in  the  best  possible  understand- 
ing between  them  and  in  the  greatest  good  to  the  young 
man,  who  was  directed  to  prepare  for  his  return  to  Oberlin. 

Leaving  Chillicothe  within  the  next  four  or  five  days, 
upon  a  stage-coach  running  from  that  city  to  Columbus  and 
northward,  the  Neil  House,  the  chief  hotel  in  the  capital 
city,  was  reached  late  in  the  evening  of  the  same  day,  after 
a  ride  of  forty-five  miles.  Here  the  coach  would  stop  for 
the  night,  and  every  passenger  left  it  to  get  supper  and  take 
lodging  accordingly.  The  coach  had  been  crowded  all  day, 
the  number  of  passengers  being  large  and  everyone  seem- 
ing to  be  going  over  the  entire  route.  All  trunks  and 
baggage  were  taken  from  the  coach  and  placed  upon  the 
pavement  for  removal  into  the  hotel.  John's  trunk  was 
included  among  the  others,  to  be  treated  as  one  would 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  91 

naturally  suppose  under  the  circumstances,  precisely  as  the 
other  baggage.  Following  the  other  passengers  who  made 
their  way  to  the  office  of  the  hotel,  he  was  just  in  the  act  of 
entering,  when  a  person  seemingly  in  authority  stopping 
him,  asked,  "Where  are  you  going?"  He  replied  naively, 
"  Into  the  hotel."  This  person  replied  in  gruff,  coarse, 
vulgar  manner,  "  No,  you  are  not !  We  do  not  entertain 
niggers  !  You  must  find  some  nigger  boarding-house."  It 
was  a  dark,  rainy,  disagreeable  evening  on  the  first  day  of 
March,  1845.  Every  trunk  was  carried  into  the  hotel 
except  the  boy's,  and  he  denied  admittance  stood  by  his 
as  an  outcast,  heartbroken,  not  knowing  what  to  do  nor 
where  to  go.  A  black  man  in  passing  seeing  his  condition, 
addressed  him,  asking,  "What  is  the  matter?"  In  the 
midst  of  his  surprise  and  sore  indignation,  he  told  the 
stranger  of  his  situation;  when  in  a  most  kindly  manner, 
taking  his  small  trunk  in  his  hand,  he  said  to  the  unfortu- 
nate lad,  "  Follow  me  !  I  will  take  you  to  a  stopping-place, 
where  you  shall  be  well  cared  for."  And  so  in  fact  it 
turned  out. 

Through  this  experience,  which  was  absolutely  more  deadly 
in  fact  to  John's  feelings  than  the  quickest  poison 
could  have  been  to  his  body,  he  gained  the  acquaintance  of 
a  man  and  his  family,  colored  persons,  whom  he  learned 
subsequently  to  respect  and  honor.  He  passed  the  night 
with  them,  and  at  eight  o'clock  the  next  morning  the 
stage-coach  in  which  he  had  travelled  from  Chillicothe 
appeared  at  their  door  to  take  the  young  man  on  his  journey 
northward,  according  to  agreement  made  when  he  paid  his 
passage  to  Oberlin.  The  same  person  who  had  met  him 
the  night  before  at  the  hotel  and  treated  him  so  illegally 
and  cruelly,  appeared  with  the  coach,  acting,  apparently,  as 
the  agent  of  the  company  owning  it.  As  the  young  man 
came  out  and  advanced  to  take  his  seat  as  a  passenger, 
after  his  trunk  had  been  put  upon  the  coach,  this  person 
ordered  him  to  take  his  place  on  the  outside  and  ride  with 
the  driver.  It  was  still  raining  and  quite  chilly,  in  the  very 
first  days  of  Spring.  Young  Langston  very  properly  ob- 


92         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

jected  to  such  an  order,  asserting  that  he  would  do  no  such 
thing. 

Seated  in  the  coach  already,  on  his  way  to  Cleveland, 
was  a  gentleman  who  had  come  over  the  day  before  from 
Chillicothe,  and  who  had  paid  considerable  attention  to  this 
young  man  ;  and  when  the  order  of  the  agent  was  given,  as 
stated,  he  objected,  saying,  "  No  !  He  will  not  take  a  seat 
upon  the  outside  of  this  coach."  As  he  uttered  these 
words,  with  great  earnestness  shown  in  his  face  and  deep 
agitation  discovered  in  the  tones  of  his  voice,  he  got  out  of 
the  coach  himself,  and  insisted  that  every  other  man  do 
likewise,  and  that  the  passengers  should  take  their  seats  as 
their  names  appeared  on  the  way-bill  as  read  by  the  agent. 
This  was  quickly  agreed  to,  and  the  first  name  appearing 
upon  the  way-bill  was  that  of  John  M.  Langston.  He  took 
his  seat  inside  the  stage-coach,  making  such  choice  of  seats, 
since  there  was  no  lady  present,  as  suited  him.  His  friend's 
name  stood  next  on  the  way-bill,  and  when  called  he 
entered  the  coach  and  took  his  seat  by  the  one  whom  he 
had  befriended.  Thereafter,  on  that  journey,  neither  at  the 
hotels  nor  upon  the  coach,  did  John's  color  figure  in  the 
matter  of  his  treatment.  The  treatment  which  was  accorded 
him  at  the  Neil  House  made  indelible  impression  upon  his 
mind,  and  although  he  has  been  a  thousand  times  since 
entertained,  being  well  and  considerately  accommodated,  he 
has  never  forgotten  his  first  experience  there. 

Otherwise,  the  trip  from  Chillicothe  to  Oberlin  was  with- 
out special  incident  worthy  of  note.  John  reached  the 
college  in  good  season,  and  arranged  his  course  of  study 
with  reference  to  examination  and  admission  to  the  college 
department  in  the  following  August.  This  required  on  his 
part  vigorous  and  persistent  prosecution  of  his  studies, 
which  necessitated  early  rising,  with  late  retirement,  and 
devotion  of  all  his  powers  and  time  to  study  and  recitations, 
allowing  no  time  for  needed  exercise  and  rest.  His  record 
as  a  student  was  good,  and  his  examinations  for  admission 
to  the  college  were  of  such  character  as  to  give  him  easy 
and  satisfactory  entry  thereto. 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  93 

His  four  years  in  the  college  course  were  marked  by  dili- 
gence, good  behavior  and  success.  He  maintained  in  every 
department  of  study  an  excellent  name,  graduating  in  Au- 
gust, 1849,  with  high  honors.  In  his  college  course  he 
manifested,  ultimately,  in  connection  with  his  class,  society 
and  public  rhetorical  exercises,  special  aptness  in  debate  and 
address,  with  large  and  commendable  powers  of  composition. 
He  sustained  an  enviable  position  among  the  best  writers 
and  speakers  of  the  institution. 

A  single  incident  of  his  experience  in  early  college  life 
deserves  special  mention,  for  it  had  much  to  do  with  his 
standing  at  college  and  his  success  in  subsequent  life.  He 
had  but  entered  college  when  different  persons,  members  of 
the  two  literary  societies  of  the  institution — the  Young 
Men's  Lyceum  and  the  Union  Society — called  upon  and  in- 
vited him,  as  they  did  other  members  of  his  class,  then 
Freshmen,  to  join  the  one  or  the  other  association.  Having 
several  special  friends  in  the  Union  Society  who  pressed 
him  to  join  it,  and  understanding  that  this  society  sustained 
a  very  high  name,  he  did  join  it,  and  was  welcomed  as  a 
member  by  marked  and  pleasing  consideration.  He  was 
immediately  called  to  duty  by  being  given  position  in  a 
debate  which  was  to  take  place  one  week  from  the  date  of 
his  membership.  The  question  to  be  discussed,  and  one 
which  created  no  small  interest  at  the  time  in  the  society 
and  throughout  the  college,  was,  "  Do  the  teachings  of 
phrenology  interfere  with  man's  free  moral  agency?" 
The  expectations  had  in  the  society  and  among  the  stu- 
dents generally  with  respect  to  this  exercise  were  high,  as 
at  least  three  of  the  ablest  student-orators  of  the  college 
were  to  take  part  in  the  debate,  and  the  subject  was  one 
which  then  excited  large  interest  even  in  the  community. 
The  ablest  speaker  of  the  students  was  made  the  leader  of 
the  discussion  in  the  affirmative  of  the  question,  and  young 
Langston  was  made  his  colleague.  Mr.  Edmund  B.  Wood, 
by  far  the  brightest  scholar  of  the  college  department,  and 
second  to  no  one  of  his  associates  as  a  debater,  had  spoken, 
and  a  young  gentleman  of  skill  and  ability  as  a  disputant, 
7 


94         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

had  answered  him,  when  the  president  of  the  society  an- 
nounced Mr.  Langston  as  the  next  speaker.  He  came 
forward,  taking  his  position  upon  the  platform  and  address- 
ing the  presiding  officer  as  "Mr.  President."  He  was 
unable  to  proceed  further.  Every  thought,  every  feeling, 
every  sentiment,  every  mental  experience  and  condition, 
with  every  word  he  had  ever  known,  took  wings  and  flew 
away,  leaving  his  mind  a  complete  blank.  How  long  he 
occupied  his  standing  position  he  never  knew.  When, 
however,  he  recovered  himself,  he  was  seated  in  his  place, 
and  immediately  a  flood  of  strange  feeling  and  saddening 
experience'poured  itself  through  his  being,  filling  his  heart 
and  understanding  in  such  manner  that  he  could  only  find 
relief  in  the  bitterest  and  the  most  copious  tears.  His  con- 
dition seemed  deplorable,  and  as  the  exercises  were  closed 
shortly  thereafter,  every  young  gentleman  proffered  his 
sympathy  to  the  unfortunate  member.  He  could  not,  then, 
accept  sympathy.  Its  expression  tended  to  increase  and 
intensify  his  grief  and  humiliation.  His  feelings  were  too 
deeply  moved;  as  he  thought  of  his  failure,  he  felt  himself 
wholly  unworthy  of  the  slightest  attention.  With  his  hand- 
kerchief wet  with  his  tears,  his  cap  and  his  coat  sleeves  as 
deeply  immersed,  in  the  deepest  dejection  and  mortification 
he  hurried  himself  away  from  his  kind  friends  to  his  own 
room  in  Tappan  Hall.  There  all  alone  he  could  give  him- 
self up  to  that  anguish  of  soul  which  he  felt,  and  to  its  ex- 
pression in  tears,  as  they  came  in  floods.  As  he  entered  his 
room  he  locked  the  door,  and  throwing  himself  upon  his 
bed,  he  continued  to  give  unrestained,  though  silent  vent  to 
his  sorrow.  His  pillow,  bed  and  clothing  were  saturated 
with  his  tears.  The  morning  bell  of  the  institution  rang  at 
five  o'clock,  calling  the  students  to  their  daily  duties,  before 
he  seemed  able  to  master  and  control  himself.  Then,  as  if 
moved  by  some  power  above  and  outside  of  himself,  he 
arose,  and  with  swollen  face  and  inflamed  eyes  confronting 
himself  as  he  stood  before  the  little  looking-glass  hanging 
upon  the  wall  of  his  room,  he  made  the  solemn  vow  of  his 
life.  It  was  that,  God  helping  him,  he  would  never  fail 


GOES  TO  OBERLIN  COLLEGE.  95 

again  in  any  effort  at  making  a  speech  ;  and  that  he  would 
never  allow,  while  mental  and  bodily  vigor  lasted,  any  op- 
portunity to  make  one  pass  unimproved.  Thereupon  he 
made  his  toilet,  and  proceeded  as  usual  with  the  review  of 
his  lessons  preparatory  to  his  recitations.  At  the  sound  of 
the  bell,  summoning  him  and  all  other  students  to  breakfast, 
he  found  himself  ready  to  move.  As  he  descended  the 
stairway  of  the  hall  on  his  way  to  breakfast,  he  was  over- 
taken by  Mr.  Wood,  his  colleague  in  the  debate,  who  was 
still  inclined  to  offer  him  his  sympathy.  He  was  not  in 
tears  now,  and  said  to  his  friend,  "  I  thank  you  !  But, 
never  mind  !  " 

It  is  true,  however,  that  he  was  not  long  at  the  breakfast 
table,  and  did  not  do  much  talking  that  morning.  On 
being  excused  from  the  usual  family  prayers,  which  the 
students  were  required  ordinarily  to  attend,  he  left  his 
boarding-place,  and  coming  upon  the  street,  met  a  youn^ 
man,  a  member  of  the  same  society  as  himself,  who  said 
to  him,  "  Langston,  I  have  just  been  called  home  for  the 
week,  and  I  want  you  to  take  my  place  in  the  society  de- 
bate next  Thursday  evening.  Do  not  say  no !  Do  it  for 
me!"  The  proposition  was  promptly  accepted  in  the 
words"!  will  do  so!" — and  at  the  appointed  time,  when 
this  young  man's  name  was  called  and  the  president  of 
the  society  had  explained  why  he  was  absent,  Mr.  Lang- 
ston was  named  as  his  substitute,  and  introduced  according- 
ingly.  He  came  forward  without  the  least  delay,  and 
proceeded  to  the  delivery  of  his  speech,  occupying  the  ten 
minutes  allotted  to  him  ;  and  when  it  was  found  that  he 
had  not  completed  his  argument,  on  motion  of  his  colleague 
in  the  former  discussion,  he  was  given,  upon  unanimous 
vote,  an  extension  which  exactly  doubled  the  usual  time. 
Upon  the  completion  of  his  address,  which  had  been  de- 
livered with  ease  and  spirit,  the  applause  which  he  received 
was  reassuring  in  the  largest  possible  measure.  Now  his 
joy  and  satisfaction  were  quite  equal  to  the  deep  mortifica- 
cation  and  dejection  that  had  overtaken  him  in  his  failure 
one  week  before.  Saved  thus,  he  has  not  failed  to  redeem 


96         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

in  vigorous  observance  the  vow  which  he  made  as  just  re- 
corded. 

Young  Langston  always  felt  that  he  and  his  classmates 
met  a  great  misfortune,  when  on  Commencement  day  in 
August,  1849,  *ne  public  health  in  the  neighborhood  of 
Oberlin  was  such,  with  cholera  prevailing  at  Sandusky  City, 
that  no  public  Commencement  exercises  could  be  held. 
Decision  in  this  matter  had  not  been  made  before  he  and 
his  classmates  had  selected  subjects  and  prepared  their 
Commencement  addresses.  He  had  chosen  the  theme, 
"  The  Sacrifices  and  Recompenses  of  Literary  Life,"  and 
very  much  desired  to  deliver  his  address.  He  felt  when 
denied  that  privilege,  that  a  special  and  valuable  opportu- 
nity had  been  lost.  However,  his  class,  with  a  reasonable 
audience  in  attendance,  was  addressed  by  Prof.  John  Mor- 
gan, and  the  diplomas,  as  awarded,  were  conferred  by  Rev. 
Asa  Mahan,  the  president  of  the  college. 


CHAPTER  VII. 

OBERLIN,   ITS   COMMUNITY   AND   ITS   COLLEGE. 

THE  famous  and  historical  town  of  Oberlin  was  founded 
by  two  of  the  most  remarkable  men  ever  known  in  this  or 
any  other  country.  These  men  were  controlled  in  their 
purposes  by  the  religious  idea.  They  would  build  a  city,  a 
community  and  a  college,  upon  their  Christian  faith,  as 
embodied  in  the  saying,  "  They  knew  Christ  only  and  Him 
crucified." 

It  has  always  seemed  to  be  the  case,  that,  in  searching  for 
a  site  on  which  to  build  their  ideal  city,  community  and 
college,  they  sought  the  most  unpropitious  and  unpromis- 
ing that  could  be  found.  On  lands  secured  of  Messrs.  Street 
and  Hughs  of  Connecticut,  located  in  Lorain  County,  Ohio, 
ten  miles  south  of  Lake  Erie,  Messrs.  Philo  P.  Stewart  and 
John  J.  Shipherd,  the  founders  of  the  town,  selected  its  site. 
The  first  house  was  erected  in  1833.  Sixty  years  have 
wrought  such  change  in  the  conditions  of  a  situation  so 
inauspicious,  that  the  incorporated  village  of  Oberlin,  with 
its  four  thousand  inhabitants,  its  well-regulated  streets,  its 
public  grounds,  its  college  buildings  and  private  residences, 
designed  and  erected  upon  approved  models  of  architecture, 
constitutes  a  town  of  rare  New  England  character  and 
beauty. 

These  men  were  no  more  peculiar  in  the  seeming  search 
they  made  for  a  site  upon  which  they  must  build  their  en- 
terprise  in  faith,  rather  than  wisdom,  than  they  were  in  the 

97 


98         FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

great  overshadowing  purpose  which  they  had  in  founding  it 
at  all.  They  sought  to  build  in  city,  community  and 
college,  a  source  whence  should  issue  influences  exalted 
and  Christian,  which  should  be  elevating  as  they  were 
missionary,  to  save  the  people  of  the  great  Mississippi 
Valley  through  the  teachings  and  illustrations  of  Christian 
maxims  and  faith.  In  order  to  such  end,  it  was  necessary 
to  find  men  and  women,  whole  families,  who  sympathized 
heartily  with  such  founders  and  builders.  As  they  found  a 
site  for  their  city,  however  forbidding  in  its  natural  features 
and  condition,  so  quickly  redeemed  and  made  seemly  and 
pleasant,  they  found  the  men  and  women,  in  not  a  few 
cases  whole  families,  ready  to  constitute  and  maintain  their 
community. 

In  order  to  the  full  realization  of  the  Christian,  missionary 
conception  of  these  men,  it  was  understood  by  them  that  a 
school  should  be  established  at  which  men  and  women 
might  receive,  on  equal  terms,  the  advantages  of  thorough 
liberal  instruction,  with  full  accurate  knowledge  of  such 
spiritual  doctrines  as  might  fit  them  for  the  earnest  labors 
to  which  they  were  called.  The  school  contemplated  was 
established,  and  its  growth  and  development  have  been  even 
more  marvelous  than  those  of  the  city  and  the  community. 

In  1835,  when  Lane  Theological  Seminary,  located  near 
Cincinnati,  interdicted  the  discussion  of  slavery,  and  thus 
drove  two-thirds  of  its  best  students  away  from  it,  with  sev- 
eral of  its  ablest  instructors,  alienating  many  of  its  most 
valuable  patrons,  the  Oberlin  school,  in  numbers  and  talent, 
was  made  gainer  thereby  in  the  very  best  and  highest  sense. 
At  this  time,  and  because  they  were  earnest  in  their  oppo- 
sition to  slavery,  and  would  speak  against  it  themselves  and 
insist  that  others  should  have  the  right  to  do  likewise,  even 
students,  Messrs.  Asa  Mahan  and  John  Morgan  quit  their 
connection,  the  former  as  a  trustee  and  the  latter  as  a  pro- 
fessor, with  Lane  Seminary,  and  both  went  to  Oberlin.  Mr. 
Mahan  was  made  the  first  president  of  the  Oberlin  school, 
now  become  a  college,  and  Mr.  Morgan  one  of  its  leading, 
most  scholarly  professors.  Thus  reinforced  as  to  instruct- 


OBERLIN.  99 

ors  as  well  as  students,  with  a  president  of  acknowledged 
ability  and  various  accomplishments,  well  adapted  to  his 
work,  efficient  as  teacher,  and  learned,  eloquent  and  effect- 
ive as  a  pulpit  orator,  Oberlin  College,  starting  upon  im- 
proved conditions  of  life  and  power,  gave  promise  of 
enlarged  permanent  success. 

The  "  Oberlin  Movement,"  headed  by  the  men  already 
named,  and  the  "Abolition  Movement,"  led  by  William 
Lloyd  Garrison  and  his  associates,  had  their  origin  in  the  same 
year.  In  the  former,  equality  was  conceded  so  far  as  edu- 
cational advantages  were  concerned,  without  distinction  of 
sex  ;  and  through  the  influence  of  the  latter,  whose  aim  was 
the  unconditional  abolition  of  slavery  and  the  elevation  of 
the  negro,  the  founders  and  supporters  of  Oberlin  College 
were  forced  early  in  its  history,  as  early  as  1835,  to  consider 
and  determine  the  question  of  the  coeducation  of  white  and 
colored  students  within  its  halls.  Fortunately  for  the 
colored  race,  the  Rev.  John  Keep  had  been  made  a  trustee 
of  the  college,  and  been  elected  president  of  the  Board  of 
Trustees.  When  the  question  upon  this  subject  came  up, 
the  debate  was  protracted,  earnest  and  exciting.  The 
gravest  doubt  prevailed  as  to  the  final  decision  to  be 
reached,  and  when  a  vote  was  taken,  the  board  stood 
equally  divided,  one  half  for  and  the  other  half  against  the 
proposition.  It  was  for  the  president  of  the  Board  of  Trus- 
tees to  give  the  casting  vote,  and  settle  the  question  in 
favor  of  the  admission  or  the  rejection  of  colored  students. 
All  honor  to  his  memory  and  heroic  conduct,  John  Keep 
gave  his  casting  vote  for  justice,  equality  and  freedom, 
when  he  voted  for  the  admission  of  the  colored  student  to 
Oberlin  College. 

The  preamble  and  resolution  submitted  to  the  Board  of 
Trustees  on  this  subject  read  as  follows : 

"  Whereas,  there  does  exist  in  our  country  an  excitement  in  respect  to 
"  our  colored  population  ;  and  fears  are  entertained  that  on  the  one  hand  they 
"  will  be  left  unprovided  for  as  to  the  means  of  a  proper  education,  and  on  the 
"other  that  they  will  in  unsuitable  numbers  be  introduced  into  our  schools  and 
"thus  in  effect  forced  into  the  society  of  the  whites;  and  the  state  of  public 


ioo       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

"  sentiment  is  such  as  to  require  from  the  board  some  definite  expression  on 
"  the  subject ; 

"  Therefore,  resolved,  that  the  education  of  the  people  of  color  is  a  matter 
"of  great  interest,  and  should  be  encouraged  and  sustained  in  this  institution." 

It  was  at  a  meeting  of  the  board  of  trustees  held  Feb- 
ruary 9,  1835,  that  this  action  was  taken ;  and  ever  since 
that  time  colored  students  have  enjoyed  like  opportunities 
and  advantages  in  the  school  as  white  persons. 

In  such  manner  the  purposes  of  the  founders  of  the  Ober- 
lin  community  and  college  have  been  realized  in  the  wisest 
and  most  comprehensive  sense,  so  far  as  the  management 
of  the  latter  is  concerned,  as  endorsed  and  sustained  by  the 
former.  In  accepting  all  persons  of  every  nationality, 
native  and  foreign  born,  white  and  black,  male  and  female, 
as  students  to  be  fitted  in  head  and  heart  for  the  arduous 
manly  and  womanly  duties  of  life,  the  highest  ideal  of  its 
Christian  founders  must  have  been  completely,  grandly 
realized.  Therefore  to  Oberlin  belongs  the  honor  of  being 
the  first  institution  of  learning  in  the  world  to  give  woman 
equal  educational  opportunities  and  advantages  with  man. 
To  it,  too,  belongs  the  honor  of  being  the  first  college  of 
the  United  States  to  accept  the  negro  student  and  give  him 
equal  educational  opportunities  and  advantages  with  the 
white.  And  to  the  Oberlin  community  belongs  the  dis- 
tinguishing honor  of  being  the  first  one  on  the  face  of  the 
earth  to  realize  in  its  teachings,  its  practices  and  its  man- 
ners towards  every  human  being,  the  high  central  Christian 
sentiment,  "  that  whatsoever  ye  would  that  men  should  do  to 
you,  do  ye  even  so  to  them."  While  the  town  of  Oberlin 
has  grown  steadily  in  all  the  years  of  its  life  in  every  way  of 
improvement  and  excellence,  and  the  community  in  every 
redeeming  and  desirable  quality  of  popular  progress  and  ad- 
vancement, the  college,  multiplying  its  numbers,  improving 
its  methods  and  appliances  for  its  educational  work,  has 
constantly  elevated  and  broadened  its  standards  of  scholar- 
ship. 

From  the  beginning  in  Oberlin,  extreme  radical  views 
were  held  and  maintained  on  all  matters  of  reform,  religion, 


OBERLIN.  101 

education  and  anti-slavery.  Correct  habits  of  diet  and 
dress,  as  approved  by  the  founders  of  the  community,  con- 
ducive to  one's  health  and  in  keeping  with  his  circum- 
stances, were  advised  and  urged.  The  principles  of  religious 
faith  and  life,  as  inculcated  in  the  severest  teachings  and 
philosophy  of  Jesus  Christ  and  the  Apostles,  were  accepted 
and  pressed  as  indispensable  to  individual  and  popular 
obligation.  Education,  which  meant  the  development  of 
the  whole  human  being  in  intellectual,  moral  and  spiritual 
powers,  with  due  consecration  of  all  learning,  genius,  talent 
and  influence  to  God  and  humanity,  without  distinction  of 
sex  or  color,  was  recognized  as  the  duty  and  privilege  of 
every  child  of  man.  And  upon  all  subjects  of  freedom  — 
the  unconstitutionality  of  slavery,  its  utter  violation  of  the 
maxims  of  the  Bible,  and  its  outrage  of  all  the  fundamental 
doctrines  of  genuine  democracy — its  position  was  clear,  com- 
prehensive and  decisive. 

To  such  a  community,  maintaining  such  principles  and 
insisting  upon  their  application  to  and  enforcement  in  favor 
of  all  person  ;,  whatever  might  be  the  sacrifices  or  the  dan- 
gers to  be  incurred,  it  was  natural  to  find  the  fugitive  slave, 
in  search  of  a  place  of  refuge  and  protection,  gathering  in 
large  numbers.  So  it  was;  and  as  early  as  1844,  when 
young  Langston  arrived,  he  found  among  other  remarkable 
things  true  of  the  people,  that  they  had  provided  a  school- 
house,  situated  in  a  conspicuous  part  of  the  town,  employed 
solely  for  the  education  and  improvement  of  any  fugitive 
slaves  who  had  come  to  and  settled  in  the  place  and  who 
were  moved  by  the  desire  and  purpose  of  elevating  them- 
selves educationally  and  morally.  This  schoolhouse  was 
known,  as  it  was  called,  the  Liberty  School.  Here  was  his 
Faneuil  Hall,  in  which  the  negro  made  his  most  eloquent  and 
effective  speeches  against  his  enslavement.  And  no  fugitive 
slave  resident  of  Oberlin,  attending  such  school  or  hearing 
such  utteranccs/ever  feared  any  successful  assault  upon  his 
freedom,  even  though  the  attacking  party  came  armed  with 
the  muniments  of  the  law  in  such  behalf,  state  or  national. 
The  major  part  of  the  colored  persons  residing  in  Oberlin 


102       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

at  this  time  were  fugitive  slaves,  who  remained  there  in  the 
consciousness  that  they  were  safe  against  the  capture  of  any 
slave-holder  or  his  agent,  any  officer  of  the  government  or 
other. 

But  the  real  spirit  and  metal  of  Oberlin  were  not  tested, 
so  far  as  its  purpose  with  regard  to  the  fugitive  slave  and 
his  succor  were  concerned,  till  1858,  and  in  connection  with 
what  stands  now  in  history  as  the  "  Oberlin  Wellington 
Rescue  Case."  This  was  a  case  in  which  the  whole  people, 
men  and  women,  leaving  the  town  absolutely  deserted, 
went  forth  under  the  frenzy  of  their  conviction  in  favor  of 
freedom,  to  rescue  the  black  boy,  John  Price,  from  a  United 
States  deputy  marshal  who  had  arrested  and  attempted  to 
spirit  him  away  to  that  bondage  from  which  he  had  by 
flight  emancipated  himself. 

The  treatment  accorded  colored  people  in  Oberlin 
socially  at  this  time  was  most  remarkable  ;  in  keeping,  how- 
ever, with  the  professions  religiously,  politically  and  educa- 
tionally made  by  the  founders  of  the  community.  Every 
Sunday  colored  persons  could  be  seen  seated  in  conspicu- 
ous eligible  places  in  the  only  church  in  the  town,  worship- 
ping after  the  manner  of  those  in  whose  midst  they  lived, 
and  no  one  molested  or  disturbed  them.  Such  persons  were 
made  welcome  as  equals  in  the  best  families,  as  they  were 
in  every  part  of  the  institution,  and  thus  were  given  the 
best  social,  as  they  were  the  highest  educational  advan- 
tages. Such  was  the  recognition  and  the  consideration 
accorded  the  colored  American,  whether  student  or  resident, 
in  Oberlin,  in  the  earlier  days  of  its  history. 

Of  the  leading  men  of  the  community  and  the  college,  if 
they  may  be  classified  in  such  way,  it  would  be  well-nigh 
impossible  for  one  duly  advised  to  speak  in  too  high  praise. 
In  addition  to  Messrs.  Stewart  and  Shipherd,  already 
named,  Messrs.  Asa  Mahan,  Charles  G.  Finney,  John 
Morgan  and  John  Keep  must  be  numbered  among  those 
who  are  to  be  honored  as  the  founders  and  the  promoters 
of  Oberlin,  its  community  and  its  college,  distinguished  as 
it  has  always  been  for  the  high  tone  of  its  Christian  senti- 


OBERLIN.  103 

ment,  its  lofty  standard  of  equal  popular  education,  and  its 
intelligent,  sincere  devotion  to  impartial  liberty  and  human 
rights. 

In  such  a  community,  at  such  an  institution  of  learning, 
under  such  influences,  young  Langston  was  located  early  in 
life,  and  received  his  education  and  training. 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

HE    SEEKS  ADMISSION    TO    CERTAIN    LAW    SCHOOLS,    BUT 
IS   DENIED. 

YOUNG  Langston  had  completed  his  academic  and  col- 
legiate studies.  He  had  completed  his  twentieth  year  and 
was  nearing  his  majority.  He  had  taken  a  course  of  study 
calculated  to  fit  him  for  such  further  prosecution  of  some 
professional  course  as  might  properly  pursued  make  him  a 
useful  man,  and  his  guardian  and  friends  expected  him  to 
go  forward  in  reasonable  hope  and  courage  to  the  end. 
He  had  the  health — although  his  natural  physical  condition 
had  been  somewhat  disturbed  by  indiscretion  in  over-study, 
want  of  proper  diet  and  necessary  exercise — the  means  and 
the  ability  to  justify  and  determine  such  course.  Here  the 
question  came  to  him,  as  to  all  young  men  similarly  situ- 
ated, "  What  shall  I  do  ?  "  He  would  study  and  practice 
law.  There  was  not  however  a  negro  lawyer  in  any  part  of 
the  country,  and  there  never  had  been  one  from  the  foun- 
dation of  the  Government.  Besides,  there  was  no  public 
sentiment  in  any  part  of  the  country  favoring  such  course 
on  the  part  of  any  young  colored  man  however  endowed, 
educated,  qualified  and  well  situated  for  such  profession. 
The  public  feeling  of  the  country  seemed  to  be  entirely 
against  it,  and  no  promise  of  success  in  such  behalf  could 
be  discovered  in  any  quarter.  The  colored  people  them- 
selves were  not  prepared  to  sustain  a  person  cultivating  the 
legal  profession  even  where  they  had  business  of  such  char- 
104 


DENIED  ADMISSION  TO  LAW  SCHOOLS.  105 

acter  as  to  require  professional  attention.  For  the  courts 
were  all  composed  of  white  men  and  so  were  all  the  juries, 
and  on  the  part  of  the  former  and  the  latter  alike  prejudice, 
strong  and  inveterate,  existed  against  the  colored  litigant. 
Moreover  the  very  language  of  the  law  was  so  positively 
against  the  colored  man  in  many  cases,  and  construed  often 
so  as  to  affect  his  interests  so  vitally  and  seriously,  that  he 
very  justly  felt  that  he  must  do  his  utmost,  even  in  the 
employment  of  his  lawyer,  to  gain  so  far  as  practicable, 
favor  with  the  court  and  jury.  He  felt  that  he  must  not 
certainly  do  the  least  thing  tending  to  engender  or  arouse 
any  feeling  or  sentiment  against  himself  as  a  suitor  for 
justice.  Thus  the  young  colored  man  was  invited  to  this 
calling  by  no  prospect  of  success,  by  no  example  of  a 
daring  and  courageous  forerunner. 

But  where  could  a  young  colored  man  find  a  place  to 
study  law  ?  Who  would  take  him,  among  all  the  lawyers  of 
the  country,  into  his  office  as  a  student,  and  give  him  from 
day  to  day  such  attention,  with  instruction,  as  he  might 
require?  To  what  law  school  could  he  be  admitted? 
Was  there  one  in  the  whole  land  which  would  give  him 
admission  and  welcome  ?  Our  young  colored  student,  well 
furnished  in  every  way  with  every  natural  endowment  of 
mind,  education,  moral  character  and  fortune,  a  graduate 
of  Oberlin  College,  and  a  citizen  of  the  United  States  and 
of  the  State  of  Ohio,  was  confronted  by  such  questions,  and 
stood  in  doubt  and  wonder  as  to  whether  he  could  find  a 
place,  office  or  school,  where  he  might  pursue  professional 
study.  Where  could  he  pursue  the  study  of  the  law  and 
qualify  himself  for  the  duties  of  an  attorney  and  counsellor? 

While  in  this  condition  of  anxiety  and  perplexity,  an  aged 
colored  man  who  had  large  observation  and  experience,  with 
no  little  thought  upon  the  situation  and  prospects  of  his 
class,  and  who  was  esteemed  and  treated,  generally,  as  a 
sort  of  wise  man,  par  excellence,  advised  the  young  colored 
graduate  not  to  think  of  doing  such  an  absurd  tiling  as 
studying  law,  declaring  in  a  most  oracular  manner  that  the 
practice  of  the  law  was  something  in  which  only  the  very 


io6       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

smartest  white  men  could  succeed.  About  the  same  time 
the  young  man  received  a  letter  from  a  lawyer  of  great 
prominence  in  his  profession,  an  anti-slavery  man  and  special 
friend  of  the  negro  race,  in  answer  to  one  which  young 
Langston  had  written  him  asking  for  a  place  as  a  student 
in  his  office.  After  saying  in  this  letter  that  he  could  not 
take  him  as  a  student,  he  kindly  advised  him  to  leave  the 
United  States  and  seek  a  home  in  the  British  West  India 
Islands,  where,  perhaps,  as  he  stated,  he  could  study  law, 
and  maybe  succeed  in  its  practice.  The  denial  made  to 
the  young  man,  and  the  counsel  vouchsafed  to  him,  were 
natural  enough  under  the  circumstances,  and  came  as 
prompted  by  generous  consideration  in  his  interest. 

Thereupon,  the  would-be  colored  law-student  manifested 
greater  decision  with  respect  to  his  desires  in  such  regard 
than  ever;  for  he  at  once  wrote  Mr.  J.  W.  Fowler,  who 
owned  and  conducted  a  law  school  at  Ballston  Spa,  New 
York,  inquiring  whether  he  could  be  admitted  as  a  student 
into  his  school.  He  wrote  frankly  and  truthfully  about 
himself,  telling  who  he  was,  all  about  his  race,  complexion, 
qualifications  and  character,  assuring  Mr.  Fowler  that  he 
could  not  only  furnish  all  needed  recommendations  and  en- 
dorsements of  standing,  but  was  able  to  meet  every  charge 
for  tuition,  board,  or  other  demand,  in  advance.  Answer 
was  soon  received  from  this  gentleman  to  the  effect  that  he 
had  submitted  his  case  to  his  Board  of  Trustees  and  Board 
of  Faculty,  and  that  the  decision  was  on  the  part  of  both 
unanimous  against  his  admission,  because  of  his  color.  Mr. 
Fowler  advised  him,  however,  to  come  to  Ballston  Spa  and 
let  himself  be  seen,  stating  that  it  might  be  that  he  would 
be  received.  Anxious  as  he  was  to  enter  this  school,  feel- 
ing and  believing  that  his  presence  and  appearance  might 
be  of  service  to  him,  and  having  a  young  friend  attending 
there  who  urged  him  to  come  on,  with  the  assurance,  as 
he  felt,  that  he  would  be  given  admission,  he  did  visit  the 
school.  He  arrived  in  time  to  attend  the  ordinary  Com- 
mencement exercises  of  1850.  He  had  the  pleasure  and 
advantage  of  seeing  and  hearing  David  Paul  Brown,  the 


DENIED  ADMISSION  TO  LAW  SCHOOLS.  107 

great  and  famous  lawyer  and  orator,  on  this  occasion,  who 
addressed  the  graduating  class  in  his  usually  masterly 
manner  upon  "  The  Aristocracy  of  Eloquence  !  "  The  fig- 
ure of  his  address,  the  striking,  marvelous  illustration  of  its 
truth,  was  witnessed  in  his  own  majestic  power,  displayed 
in  elocution,  manner,  gesture,  sentiment  and  effect.  And  so 
the  picture  of  the  occasion  remains  in  the  memory  and  im- 
agination of  the  young  man,  who  hearing  this  orator  by  the 
merest  chance,  had  his  determination  to  press  on  stimu- 
lated and  confirmed. 

Afterward  young  Langston  called  upon  Mr.  Fowler,  and 
renewed  verbally,  with  suitable  explanations,  his  applica- 
tion for  admission  to  the  school.  The  principal  promised 
him  that  his  case  should  be  fairly  and  impartially  con- 
sidered and  decided.  He  said,  however,  it  would  have  to 
be  submitted  to  his  Board  of  Trustees  and  his  Board  of 
Faculty.  Accordingly,  within  the  next  twenty-four  hours, 
Mr.  Fowler  called  upon  Mr.  Langston  at  his  hotel,  and 
after  paying  his  respects  to  him,  proceeded  to  give  in  full 
the  adverse  conclusion,  with  the  reasons  therefor,  which 
had  been  reached  in  his  case. 

Among  other  things  he  said  John  C.  Calhoun,  of  South 
Carolina,  had  visited  the  school  the  year  before  at  Com- 
mencement and  addressed  the  graduating  class,  and  upon 
leaving  had  promised  him  that  he  would  see  to  it  that  the 
number  of  his  students  should  be  largely  increased  by  a  good 
and  numerous  accession  of  young  persons  from  his  State. 
Continuing  he  said,  "  We  feel  that  should  we  take  a  colored 
person  into  the  school  as  a  student,  and  it  should  become 
known,  we  would  offend  thereby  these  friends  of  ours  and 
the  school  become  loser  to  that  extent,  at  least,  and  doubt- 
less to  even  a  greater."  Young  Langston  expressed  his  deep 
regret  and  his  profound  chagrin  in  terms  and  manner  which 
seemed  in  some  sense  to  move  Mr.  Fowler's  feelings.  "You 
have  my  sympathy, "he  said,  "and  I  would  be  pleased  to 
do  something  to  help  you  on  in  your  studies.  I  will  tell 
you  what  I  will  do.  I  will  let  you  edge  your  way  into  my 
school.  Or,  if  you  will  consent  to  pass  as  a  Frenchman  or 


io8       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

a  Spaniard  hailing  from  the  West  India  Islands,  Central  or 
South  America,  I  will  take  you  into  the  school."  When  he 
had  finished  his  statement,  Mr.  Langston  asked,  "  What, 
Mr.  Fowler,  do  you  mean  by  your  words  '  Edge  your  way  into 
the  school'?"  He  answered,  "  Come  into  the  recitation- 
room  ;  take  your  seat  off  and  apart  from  the  class ;  ask  no 
questions;  behave  yourself  quietly ;  and  if  after  a  time  no 
one  says  anything  against,  but  all  seem  well  inclined  toward 
you,  you  may  move  up  nearer  the  class  ;  and  so  continue  to 
do  till  you  are  taken  and  considered  in  due  time  as  in  full 
and  regular  membership." 

With  the  close  of  these  words,  Mr.  Langston,  moved  by  a 
deep  sense  of  the  humiliation  of  his  manhood  under  the 
circumstances,  rising  from  his  seat  and  yet  in  most  respectful 
but  feeling  terms,  expressed  himself  after  this  manner :  "  I 
thank  you,  Mr.  Fowler  !  But,  however  much  I  may  desire 
to  enter  your  school,  I  will  do  so  upon  no  terms  or  condi- 
tions of  humiliation  !  I  will  not  edge  my  way  into  your 
institution  !  Nor  will  I  yield  my  American  birthright,  as  a 
citizen  of  the  United  States,  even  in  the  pretense  that  I  am 
a  Frenchman  or  a  Spaniard,  to  gain  that  object !  I  was 
born  in  Virginia  and  upon  a  plantation.  Neither  of  these 
facts  will  I  deny.  I  expect  to  live  as  I  hope  to  die,  in  my 
own  country  in  the  service  of  my  own  fellow-citizens  !  Mr. 
Fowler,  before  I  would  consent  to  the  humiliation  and 
degradation  implied  in  either  of  your  propositions,  I  would 
open  my  veins  and  die  of  my  own  act !  I  am  a  colored 
American  ;  and  I  shall  not  prove  false  to  myself,  nor  neg- 
lect the  obligation  I  owe  to  the  negro  race  !  You  will  par- 
don the  vehemence  and  positiveness  of  my  utterance." 

Mr.  Fowler  heard  Mr.  Langston  in  kind  considerate  man- 
ner. No  feeling  was  exhibited  on  his  part  other  than  that 
of  approbation  of  his  decision  and  its  earnest,  manly  ex- 
pression. However,  he  finally  said  as  he  addressed  Mr. 
Langston,  "You  have  my  sympathy,  but  I  cannot  take 
you  as  a  student."  To  this  the  young  man  made  prompt 
reply,  "  I  do  not  need  sympathy  !  I  need  the  privileges 
and  advantages  of  your  law  school."  Here  the  interview  was 


DENIED  ADMISSION  TO  LAW  SCHOOLS.          109 

ended,  Mr.  Fowler  bidding  the  would-be  colored  law-student 
a  cordial  and  kindly  farewell.  However,  he  tarried  to  say  to 
Mr.  Langston,  "  You  lecture  sometimes,  do  you  not  ?  "  The 
answer  was,  "  I  do."  He  then  asked,  "  Would  you  not 
like  to  speak  to  us,  and  in  our  great  lecture-room  ?  "  The 
answer  was,  "  I  would."  Then  Mr.  Fowler  inquired, 
11  What  shall  be  your  subject  ?  "  Quickly  Mr.  Langston  re- 
plied, "  Your  treatment  of  a  young  educated  colored  man, 
the  first  of  his  class  to  ask  admission  as  a  student  to  any 
American  law  school."  With  the  subject  announced,  Mr. 
Fowler  declined  to  have  the  lecture  delivered,  leaving  the 
young  man  with  his  hurried  words,  "  Good-bye !  Good- 
bye !  " 

Mr.  Fowler  had  learned  of  Mr.  Langston's  lecturing 
sometimes  on  Anti-Slavery  and  kindred  popular  themes 
from  Mr.  Thomas  Higgins,  a  young  white  man,  who  had 
formerly  attended  school  at  Oberlin,  and  who  was  a  special 
friend  of  the  colored  student.  At  this  time  Mr.  Higgins  was 
a  member  of  the  Ballston  Spa  law  school,  and  had  taken 
great  interest  in  Mr.  Langston's  entering  the  same  institu- 
tion. Among  other  high  and  distinguished  evidences  of  his 
friendly  regard  and  appreciation  of  his  colored  friend 
worthy  of  note  is  the  fact  that  through  his  influence  Dr. 
St.  John,  a  prominent  and  active  member  of  the  Mite  society 
of  this  beautiful  little  town  of  New  York,  invited  Mr.  Lang- 
ston to  his  home,  to  a  very  imposing  and  agreeable  dinner 
party.  There  were  present  among  others  at  this  dinner, 
Mr.  Fowler,  with  three  or  four  of  the  leading  professors  of 
his  school,  and  Mr.  Higgins  and  several  of  the  students. 
The  dinner  was  given  the  following  day  after  the  interview 
just  narrated  as  occurring  between  Mr.  Fowler  and  Mr. 
Langston. 

The  honor  thus  conferred  upon  Mr.  Langston  was  a  very 
signal  one,  and  rendered  especially  emphatic  when,  as  the 
company  had  seated  themselves  about  the  table,  Dr.  St. 
John,  an  avowed  and  positive  friend  of  the  colored  Ameri- 
can, addressing  him  at  his  own  table  in  the  midst  of  his 
very  excellent  and  refined  guests,  said,  "  I  am  glad  you 


no       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

have  come  to  live  among  us,  for  two  or  three  years  at  least, 
and  to  study  in  our  law  school.  We  shall  treat  you  well. 
Mr.  Higgins  has  told  us  all  about  you."  "  No,"  said  Mr. 
Langston,  "  I  shall  have  to  leave  you  to-morrow  morning 
for  Ohio."  "  Why  ?  "  quickly  asked  Dr.  St.  John.  "  Mr. 
Fowler  will  answer,"  replied  Mr.  Langston. 

Mr.  Fowler  at  first  was  inclined  to  avoid  a  frank,  truthful 
answer.  But  Dr.  St.  John  was  earnest  and  positive  in  the 
matter,  and  would  tolerate  nothing  like  indirection  or  eva- 
sion, and  pressed  his  inquiries  on  the  subject  in  such  way 
that  Mr.  Fowler  was  compelled  to  make  proper  answer  in 
the  case.  Dr.  St.  John  thereupon  opened  his  mind  freely, 
offering  such  utter  condemnation  of  Mr.  Fowler's  action,  in 
the  presence  of  his  friends  and  to  their  delight,  as  really 
seemed  to  make  the  president  of  the  school  heartily 
ashamed  of  his  conduct.  That  the  true  sentiment  of  those 
who  heard  Dr.  St.  John  in  his  criticism  of  Mr.  Fowler's 
conduct  in  this  case  may  be  fully  appreciated,  it  is  proper 
to  present  here  a  circumstance  of  great  interest  and  satis- 
faction to  Mr.  Langston.  The  next  morning  after  the  din- 
ner, one  of  the  gentlemen  present,  a  lawyer  of  learning  and 
distinction,  and  a  lecturer  of  the  school,  residing  at  Saratoga 
and  doing  a  flourishing  business  in  that  city,  called  upon 
Mr.  Langston  at  his  hotel,  and  kindly  offered,  should  he 
conclude  to  remain  in  New  York  and  study  law  in  that 
State,  to  take  him  into  his  office  as  his  student,  and  give 
him  a  home  in  his  own  family.  This  kind  and  generous  of- 
fer, however,  was  declined ;  and  Mr.  Langston  returning  to 
Ohio,  sought  to  gain  admission  to  the  law  school  located 
at  Cincinnati,  conducted  and  taught  by  Judge  Timothy 
Walker.  He  was  denied  admission,  also,  to  this  school, 
Judge  Walker  writing  him  that  he  could  not  receive  him, 
"  because  his  students  would  not  feel  at  home  with  him, 
and  he  would  not  feel  at  home  with  them." 


CHAPTER  IX. 

HE   STUDIES   THEOLOGY  AND   LAW   AND    IS    ADMITTED   TO 
THE   BAR. 

PROFESSOR  JOHN  MORGAN  was,  at  once,  the  friend  of  the 
colored  student  and  the  negro  race.  The  principles  which 
he  accepted  as  the  basis  of  his  character,  actuating  and 
guiding  his  whole  life,  were  those  which  moved  as  they 
stimulated  the  activities  of  Daniel  O'Connell  in  behalf  of 
both  the  British  and  the  American  slave.  Morgan,  an 
Irishman  by  birth  and  lineage,  had  lost  nothing  in  the  in- 
heritance and  cultivation  of  the  principles  indicated,  espe- 
cially as  they  had  been  in  his  case  sanctified  through  his 
Christian  faith,  as  discovered  always  in  his  noble  Christian 
ardor  in  behalf  of  every  meritorious  and  worthy  cause.  He 
was,  under  all  circumstances,  the  valued  friend  of  any 
student  who  had  been  fortunate  enough  to  secure  his  in- 
struction and  his  paternal  attention  and  interest  ;  so  that 
any  student  graduating  from  Oberlin  College,  left  his  Alma 
Mater  assured  of  his  deep  abiding  interest  in  his  general  wel- 
fare. It  was  not,  then,  unnatural  that  young  Langston, 
situated  as  he  was,  should  have  appealed  to  this  worthy, 
kind-hearted  scholar,  for  counsel  and  direction,  so  indispen- 
sable to  wise  and  proper  decision  as  to  the  course  of  study 
which  he  should  pursue.  He  well  understood  that  any  ad- 
vice and  direction  given  him  by  that  person,  would  be 
offered  in  the  deepest  sincerity  and  in  the  intelligent  hope 
of  the  best  possible  results.  Knowing  the  character  of  the 
in 


ii2       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

man  whom  he  addressed,  that  he  was  sagacious,  earnest 
and  solicitous  for  his  highest  good,  Mr.  Langston  did  not 
hesitate  to  take  the  judgment  of  his  old  teacher  as  the  de- 
cision in  the  most  important  and  solemn  matter  of  his  life. 
As  advised,  without  further  debate  he  determined  to 
return  to  Oberlin,  and  to  pursue  the  regular  course  of  theo- 
logy in  that  college,  as  preparatory  to  his  study  and  prac- 
tice of  the  law. 

Mr.  Langston  had  studied  the  Hebrew  to  some  extent 
and  with  unusual  success,  before  he  left  his  college  course. 
He  had  given  special  attention  to  the  Greek  as  well  as  the 
Latin  language,  so  that  so  far  as  the  original  languages  of 
the  Old  and  New  Testaments  were  concerned  he  was  in 
good  preparation  to  enter  upon  theological  study. 
Besides,  he  had  been  taken  over  such  branches  as  mental 
and  moral  science  in  his  college  course  with  the  greatest 
care  and  thoroughness  by  President  Mahan,  perhaps  one  of 
the  most  skillful  and  successful  teachers  in  such  studies 
known  in  this  country.  More  than  this,  his  student  had 
been  unusually  fond  of  such  subjects,  and  under  the  direc- 
tion of  his  teacher  had  made  large  proficiency.  In  the 
elements  of  criticism,  literature,  English  and  classic,  logic 
and  rhetoric,  theoretic  and  practical,  he  had  been  instructed 
with  diligence  and  painstaking  by  Prof.  James  A.  Thorne,  a 
master  indeed  in  his  calling.  In  addition  to  such  qualifica- 
tions this  student  possessed  large  natural  taste  and  talent 
for  the  sacred,  divine  science  whose  study  he  would  pursue. 
He  accepted  without  the  least  hesitation  or  question  every 
duty  enjoined  in  the  course,  and  persevered  with  vigor  to 
the  end.  Entering  with  suitable  preparation,  with  proper 
spirit  and  purpose,  he  pursued  the  new  course  of  study 
with  zeal  and  enthusiasm,  succeeding  beyond  the  expecta- 
tions of  those  who  felt  that  he  would  be  industrious  and 
faithful. 

The  course  covered  three  years,  and  the  studies  were 
most  interesting,  developing  the  highest  order  of  scientific, 
metaphysical,  logical,  linguistic  and  literary  taste  and 
power.  As  furnishing  a  preparatory  course  for  the  ultimate 


ADMITTED  TO  THE  BAR.  113 

study  and  practice  of  the  law,  nothing  could  be  superior  to 
the  theological  curriculum  of  studies  and  lectures  pursued 
under  and  conducted  by  the  able  and  distinguished  pro- 
fessors, Charles  G.  Finney,  John  Morgan,  Henry  Cowles, 
Henry  E.  Peck  and  their  assistants,  then  in  charge  of  the 
theological  department  of  Oberlin  College.  The  training 
secured  in  the  department  of  sacred  rhetoric  and  sermoniz- 
ing and  the  general  exercises  connected  therewith,  as  the 
same  tended  to  fit  one  for  ordinary  public  speaking, 
whether  from  manuscript  or  orally,  proved  to  be  of  the 
greatest  advantage  to  one  having  in  view  forensic  labors, 
especially  arguments  to  courts  and  juries.  The  whole 
field  of  didactic  theology,  embracing  in  its  foundation  a 
system  of  metaphysics  which  must  attempt  the  explanation 
of  every  phenomenon  of  the  human  understanding  and 
every  condition  of  the  human  heart  concerning  virtue  or 
vice,  contradicting  seemingly  sometimes,  or  ever  and  con- 
sistently  sustaining  the  teachings  of  the  Scriptures,  New 
and  Old,  afforded  a  subject  which  commanded  the  loftiest 
thought  of  the  most  vigorous  and  accurate  intellect.  The 
intricate  and  profound  system  of  hermeneutics  and  exe- 
gesis as  taught  and  applied  to  our  sacred  writings — to  the 
matchless  utterances  of  Isaiah,  the  master  prophet  of  the 
Old  Dispensation,  and  the  teachings  of  Paul,  the  tran- 
scendent philosopher  of  the  New — required,  while  they 
developed  in  their  utmost  strength,  all  the  powers  of  the 
stoutest  understanding.  Such  subjects  exciting  the  pro- 
foundest  interest  of  the  student,  educated  and  sustained  his 
highest  conceptions  of  truth,  with  his  best  logical  powers,  in 
such  manner  and  to  such  extent  as  to  prepare  him  for  the 
hardest  and  most  difficult  tasks  connected  with  the  exacting 
and  trying  intellectual  problems  of  any  science,  even  the 
law  itself.  Such  was  the  natural  and  inevitable  effect  of 
this  course  of  study  upon  Mr.  Langston,  who  though  tak- 
ing the  same  for  mental  discipline  and  culture  alone  as 
supposed,  could  not  fail  to  be  reached  by  its  moral  and 
religious  results.  Herein  he  was  greatly  benefited,  as  he 
was  morally  fortified  for  conscientious  service  at  the  Bar. 


ii4       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Mr.  Langston  was  the  first  colored  student  who  entered  a 
theological  school  in  the  United  States,  and  his  success  in 
that  character  was  awaited  with  considerable  interest  by 
those  who  knew  of  his  course  in  this  respect.  It  was  held  by 
many  persons  then  that  theological  and  metaphysical  study 
treated  as  matter  of  science  was  too  profound  and  intricate 
for  the  negro  brain  and  intellect,  and  that  therein  the  un- 
tried colored  student  must  prove  to  be  a  failure.  It  was 
conceded  that  the  colored  man  had  sensibility  enough  and 
that  religious  truth  could  be  taught  him  to  such  degree  and 
in  such  measure  as  to  excite  and  arouse  his  feelings,  moving 
him  even  to  eloquent  utterance  after  his  own  peculiar  man- 
ner in  its  advocacy  and  appeal.  To  measure  its  depths 
intellectually,  and  to  comprehend  and  master  its  fundamental 
principles  in  thought  and  in  the  light  of  reason  as  affirma- 
tive in  its  unerring  divine  approval  of  its  essence  and  verity, 
was  considered  a  thing  in  no  sense  practicable  or  possible. 
Hence,  by  such  persons,  those  holding  this  opinion  of  the 
inability  and  incapacity  of  the  colored  student,  this  new 
experiment  of  negro  education  was  regarded  as  little  less 
than  a  wonder. 

Often  persons  of  this  character,  those  without  faith  or 
confidence  in  negro  talent  or  genius,  attending  the  recitations 
of  the  classes  of  which  Mr.  Langston  was  a  member,  when 
he  was  called  to  recite  would,  especially  in  look  always,  and 
very  frequently  in  words  even  to  him,  express  their  surprise 
that  he  handled  the  subjects  under  consideration  with  such 
ease,  facility  and  skill.  Sometimes  they  would  go  so  far  as 
to  inquire  of  the  professors  how  their  colored  student  was 
getting  on  ;  whether  he  maintained  his  standing  with  his 
fellow-students ;  and  when  answered  that  he  was  doing  well 
they  would  often  press  their  inquiry  by  asking, "  Does  he  really 
seem  to  understand  and  comprehend  the  truths,  the  profound 
principles  of  theology  ?  "  It  is  not  to  be  understood  that  any 
one  of  his  professors  or  fellow-students  ever  entertained  any 
such  absurd  notions.  By  them  the  colored  student  was 
simply  treated  impartially  and  put  upon  his  own  metal,  and 
thus  made  to  make  his  own  way  over  the  course  of  study  in 


ADMITTED  TO  THE  BAR.  115 

competition  and  rivalry  with  his  classmates  for  fair  and 
equal  standing  as  to  excellence  of  achievement  and  record 
in  general  scholarship.  How  well  he  did  is  evidenced  in  the 
fact  that  by  reason  of  his  high  standing  with  his  instructors 
and  the  members  of  the  several  classes  of  the  department, 
he  was  elected  as  one  of  the  orators  therefrom  to  appear  on 
its  behalf  at  the  Commencement  of  August,  1852. 

His  address  was  received  with  manifestations  of  the  liveli- 
est interest  by  the  vast  audience  to  which  it  was  made,  and 
its  delivery  was  greeted  by  demonstrations  of  the  heartiest 
applause.  His  professors  gave  Mr.  Langston  many  words 
of  commendation,  while  his  classmates  and  fellow-students 
offered  him  their  cordial  praises.  He  was  at  once  invited 
to  preach  specially,  at  several  different  important  places. 
Besides,  he  was  offered  more  than  a  dozen  permanent  desir- 
able positions  as  a  settled  pastor.  To  all  such  propositions 
however  he  promptly  replied  that  he  was  only  fitting  him- 
self for  the  Bar,  and  was  taking  this  course  of  study  because 
he  had  not  been  able  to  gain  admission  to  a  law  school. 

Many  seemed  surprised  at  such  a  decision  and  course,  and 
not  a  few  advised  that  since  Mr.  Langston  gave  such 
marked  evidences  of  aptness  and  power  for  labor  peculiar 
to  the  pulpit,  he  had  better  turn  his  attention  in  that  direc- 
tion. Indeed  his  old  and  excellent  friend  and  instructor, 
Rev.  Charles  G.  Finney,  prayed,  on  closing  the  exercises  of 
Commencement  day,  after  he  had  heard  the  address  of 
his  student,  imploring  the  Lord  to  open  the  eyes  and  heart 
of  the  young  man  and  teach  him  his  duty  as  to  the  choice 
of  his  calling  for  life.  Subsequently,  as  he  gave  him  his 
parting  word  of  benediction  and  farewell,  the  venerable 
professor  said  to  his  student,  "  My  son,  you  ought  to  conse- 
crate yourself  to  the  Master's  work  and  preach."  But  the 
high  compliment  paid  to  Mr.  Langston  on  the  Commence- 
ment day  referred  to,  is  found  in  the  words  employed  by 
President  Finney  in  his  address  to  him  on  the  presentation 
of  the  Master's  Degree  of  the  Arts,  when  on  reaching  him,  as 
he  stood  in  the  central  position  of  fifty  other  candidates,  past 
graduates  of  the  institution,  awaiting  like  honor,  he  asked, 


ii6       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

"What  now  shall  I  say  to  you?  In  view  of  your  whole 
conduct  in  the  college  and  theological  courses  of  the  insti- 
tution, and  especially  in  view  of  your  conduct  this  day,  had 
I  the  power,  could  the  trustees  of  the  institution  give  me 
the  authority  to  do  so,  I  would  confer  upon  you  two 
degrees,  for  you  deserve  them."  This  announcement  was 
received  by  the  audience  with  the  wildest  applause,  and 
when  the  young  man  left  the  platform  upon  which  the 
students  were  ranged,  bearing  his  diploma,  he  did  so  the 
apparent  favorite  of  one  of  the  finest  audiences  that  ever 
welcomed  and  greeted  an  orator  on  a  Commencement  occa- 
sion at  Oberlin. 

Mr.  Langston  did  not,  however,  complete  his  course  in 
theology  till  August,  1853,  one  year  after  he  had  received 
the  Master's  Degree  as  mentioned.  During  his  last  year  of 
this  course,  he  gave  special  earnest  attention  with  certain 
of  his  classmates  and  others,  members  of  the  department,  to 
the  cultivation  of  the  highest  possible  standard  of  extem- 
poraneous speaking,  adopting  the  extraordinary  and  novel 
method,  in  connection  therewith,  of  naming  the  theme — 
theological,  historical,  scientific,  linguistic,  or  what  not — after 
those  interested  had  met.  The  person  who  had  been 
directed  to  name  the  subject,  upon  the  order  of  a  previous 
meeting,  alone  had  the  least  knowledge  of  it  till  after  its 
announcement.  No  one  was  permitted  to  write  a  single 
word  upon  it,  while  all  were  required  to  deliver  addresses 
as  finished  as  might  be  in  thought,  diction,  arrangement  of 
matter  and  illustration,  so  as  to  gain  the  habit  of  logical, 
clear,  apt,  attractive,  impressive  and  perfect  extemporane- 
ous address.  To  the  good  effects  of  this  exercise  Mr. 
Langston  has  been  wont  to  attribute  much  of  any  success 
which  he  may  have  achieved  in  addressing  public  audiences, 
courts  or  juries,  as  well  as  a  large  share  of  any  success 
which  may  have  attended  his  efforts  in  training  students  in 
law  or  otherwise,  in  general  or  forensic  oratory.  This 
training  was,  above  all  others,  that  which  the  lawyer 
needed ;  for  he  must  think  and  speak  often,  and  sometimes 
under  the  heaviest  weight  of  responsibility,  in  face  of 


ADMITTED  TO  THE  BAR.  117 

solemn  emergency,  on  the  spur  of  the  occasion  and  when 
he  must  be  correct  in  his  statement  of  law,  and  accomplished 
and  effective  in  his  style,  manner  of  utterance  and  general 
delivery. 

Philemon  Bliss  was  a  man  of  extraordinary  character  and 
unusual  ability.  He  had  achieved  the  name  and  standing 
of  a  scholar,  lawyer,  judge,  politician,  congressman,  anti- 
slavery  agitator,  and  friend  of  the  colored  people  of  the 
United  States,  before  he  was  asked  to  take  a  young  colored 
man  as  a  law-student  into  his  office  and  under  his  tuition. 

The  family  of  Judge  Bliss  was  fortunate  in  the  possession 
and  care  of  a  wife  and  mother,  whose  culture  and  refine- 
ment as  well  as  her  vigorous  sense  and  sound  judgment, 
were  proverbial  in  the  community  of  its  residence.  She 
was  kind  and  considerate  of  the  welfare  of  any  and  all  per- 
sons brought  within  the  limits  of  her  influence  and  control, 
and  never  timid  or  fearful  as  to  the  opinions,  even  the  criti- 
cism of  others,  with  respect  to  her  treatment  of  any  one 
drawn  to  her  by  domestic  relationships  or  temporary  social 
intercourse.  A  family  thus  constituted,  with  the  persons 
giving  it  name  and  place  of  the  character  indicated,  must 
have  held  exalted  and  conspicuous  position  and  influence  in 
the  society  of  the  community  in  which  it  was  located.  If  not 
the  very  first  family  by  reason  of  its  circumstances,  social, 
religious,  professional  and  political,  in  the  town  of  Elyrta, 
the  county-seat  of  Lorain  County,  Ohio,  it  would  tax  any- 
one acquainted  with  the  society  of  that  place  to  name  one 
superior  to  it. 

It  was  to  such  a  man,  learned  in  the  law,  with  such  a  fam- 
ily, conspicuous  and  prominent  in  every  way  and  sense,  to 
whom  Mr.  Langston  made  application  for  a  position  as  a 
student  of  law  in  his  office,  immediately  after  his  graduation 
from  the  theological  department  of  Oberlin  College.  For- 
tunately for  the  young  colored  man  who  made  this  appli- 
cation, both  Judge  Bliss  and  his  wife  had  learned  of  his 
reputation  and  promise  as  a  student  and  lawyer  from  his 
best  friends,  those  who  knew  him  well — the  instructors  of 
the  institution  from  which  he  had  graduated.  He  was 


n8        FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

therefore  the  more  readily  accepted  by  Judge  Bliss  as  his 
student,  and  by  Mrs.  Bliss  as  a  member  of  their  family. 
This  situation  proved  beneficial  as  well  socially  as  educa- 
tionally to  the  new  law-student,  and  he  and  his  race  shall 
ever  stand  debtors  to  the  brave  man  and  noble  woman  who, 
under  the  circumstances  and  in  spite  of  a  bitter  adverse  senti- 
ment then  so  potent,  accorded  him  such  unusual,  consider- 
ate, humane,  just  treatment. 

Mr.  Langston  had  not  been  in  the  office  and  family  of 
Judge  Bliss  many  days;  he  certainly  had  not  read  over  fifty 
pages  of  the  first  law  book  put  into  his  hands,  before  an  in- 
cident transpired  worthy  of  note,  calculated  to  test  the  feel- 
ing and  purpose  of  his  preceptor  as  well  as  of  the  community 
towards  him.  A  clergyman,  the  agent  of  the  American 
Colonization  Society,  had  visited  Elyria  to  present  to  the 
people  in  the  most  popular  church  of  the  place  the  claims 
of  that  society  upon  general  favor  and  patronage.  He  and 
his  friends  had  selected  Sunday  evening  as  the  time,  and 
the  great  Methodist  Church  as  the  place  where  his  address 
should  be  delivered.  The  audience  which  assembled  to 
hear  the  address  and  to  give  support  apparently  to  the  en- 
terprise, was  large  in  numbers  and  commanding  in  charac- 
ter. The  agent  proved  to  be  an  orator  of  unusual  ability 
and  eloquence,  discovering  in  his  address  not  only  large  and 
varied  understanding  of  his  subject,  but  the  very  best  Chris- 
tian temper  and  purpose.  He  had  evidently  won  the  sym- 
pathy of  his  auditors  in  his  treatment  of  his  topic,  and  had 
the  hope  of  a  large  general  contribution  in  behalf  of  his  society 
upon  the  close  of  his  remarks.  In  the  spirit  and  prospect 
inspired,  and  sustained  by  such  condition  of  things,  the  good 
man  deferred  immediate  collection  from  his  audience,  serv- 
ing notice  upon  the  poople  that  he  would  remain  in  the 
town  during  the  coming  week  visiting  from  house  to  house, 
and  thus  giving  everyone  an  opportunity  of  contributing  ac- 
cording to  his  pleasure  to  the  philanthropic,  patriotic,  Chris- 
tian cause  which  he  represented.  Thereupon  the  usual 
concluding  hymn  of  the  church  was  announced  and  sung, 
when  the  excellent  man  who  had  addressed  the  people,  as 


ADMITTED  TO  THE  BAR.  119 

by  special  invitation,  advanced  to  pronounce  the  benedic- 
tion. Mr.  Langston,  who  had  heard  his  address,  listening 
with  unflagging  attention  from  the  first  word  uttered  to  the 
close,  opposing  in  his  own  mind  everything  that  had  been 
said,  and  which  he  regarded  as  against  the  real  interests  of 
the  colored  people,  free  and  slave,  with  much  misgiving  and 
yet  under  the  pressure  of  the  deepest  sense  of  duty,  arose 
and  requested  the  minister  to  allow  him  to  make  a  single 
announcement.  Permission  was  given,  and  he  advertised 
the  people  that  on  the  next  Tuesday  evening  at  the  court 
house,  he  would  attempt  to  answer  the  address  to  which 
they  had  listened,  and  begged  them  to  make  no  contribu- 
tions of  the  character  asked  till  after  they  had  heard  him. 
Except  the  surprise  produced  upon  the  minds  of  the  peo- 
ple and  the  anxiety  manifested  by  the  orator  of  the  occa- 
sion, no  feeling  was  shown  as  the  result  of  such  notice. 
However,  as  the  audience  retired,  Mr.  Langston  with  the 
rest,  he  began  to  grow  somewhat  anxious  not  only  in  view 
of  the  task  which  he  had  taken  upon  his  shoulders,  but  as 
to  whether  Judge  Bliss  himself  would  justify  or  sustain  his 
course,  or  Mrs.  Bliss  and  the  family  tolerate  it.  He  had 
evidently,  as  he  felt,  put  himself  where  he  must  confront 
and  meet  in  manly  proper  spirit  and  manner  the  prevailing 
sentiment  of  the  community.  All  alone  in  his  room,  on 
that  memorable  Sunday  night,  in  the  very  court  house  in 
which  he  had  promised  to  speak  on  the  following  Tuesday, 
he  wondered  and  wondered,  whether  his  friends  would  not 
condemn  him,  and  he  be  disgraced  by  what  they  might 
deem  ill-advised  and  foolish  conduct. 

He  had  not  slept  soundly,  and  was  not  inclined  to  tarry 
long  in  his  quarters  the  following  morning  even  for  his 
usual  early  study.  A  more  urgent,  weighty  and  disturbing 
matter  rested  upon  his  mind.  He  was  promptly  at  the 
breakfast  table,  awaiting  with  no  little  anxiety  any  allu- 
sion which  Judge  Bliss  himself,  or  any  other  person  present 
might  make  to  the  occurrence  of  the  preceding  evening  at 
the  church.  He  did  not  have  to  wait  long,  and  his  sus- 
pense and  anxiety  were  turned  into  joy  inexpressible  when 


120       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

the  judge  applauded  his  conduct  ;  declaring  that  he  would 
preside  at  the  meeting  and  introduce  him  with  appropriate 
approving  remarks,  and  Mrs.  Bliss  herself  asserted  that  she 
would  be  present  and  would  have  the  speaker's  stand 
graced  by  her  own  large  and  beautiful  chandelier.  Such  in- 
fluences as  indicated  made  the  meeting  a  great  success  as 
to  numbers  and  character,  and  the  support  and  encourage- 
ment given  Mr.  Langston  fitted  him  in  feeling  and  general 
knowledge  for  the  effort  which  the  community  under  the 
circumstances  expected  of  him.  The  effect  of  the  meeting, 
as  regarded  the  cause,  was  signal  and  telling  against  the 
Colonization  Society ;  while  so  far  as  Mr.  Langston  was 
concerned,  it  produced  in  his  favor  the  happiest  results. 
He  succeeded  in  his  speech  in  not  only  winning  general 
substantial  approval  in  Elyria,  but  throughout  the  county 
of  Lorain,  as  was  fully  shown  by  the  several  invitations 
which  he  received  to  deliver  the  speech  in  different  commu- 
nities, and  as  his  efforts  were  noticed  and  commended  by  the 
various  newspapers  published  therein.  Thus  his  labors  in 
the  interest,  as  he  felt,  and  in  favor  of  the  colored  people  of 
the  country,  were  abundantly  and  satisfactorily  rewarded. 
If  he  had  gained  no  more  than  the  increased  popular  favor 
shown  him,  his  reward  would  have  been  all  that  he  could 
have  expected.  So  far  as  the  Bliss  family  was  concerned, 
its  treatment  of  him,  cordial  and  kind  always,  was  indeed 
rendered  even  more  warm  and  genial. 

Inured  as  Mr.  Langston  had  become  to  the  severe  and 
exacting  habits  of  an  earnest  student  from  quite  ten  years 
of  constant  study  in  the  preparatory,  collegiate  and  theo- 
logical departments  of  Oberlin  College,  he  was  prepared  to 
enter  upon  the  matters  of  the  law,  even  in  an  office,  with 
large  hope  of  general  unusual  success.  The  lawyer  with 
whom  he  was  to  study  was  a  man  of  such  talent,  various 
and  special  qualifications,  with  such  experience  in  years  of 
heavy  professional  labors,  with  such  conspicuous  position  at 
the  Bar,  and  such  a  name  as  an  honest  and  upright  judge, 
with  positive  personal  interest  in  his  new  student,  that  no 
one  could  see  anything  but  inspiring  hope  and  success  for 
him  under  such  favorable  circumstances. 


ADMITTED  TO  THE  BAR.  121 

This  first  colored  law-student  appreciated  his  position, 
however,  and  was  not  forgetful  of  the  many  vexatious  con- 
ditions underlying  and  surrounding  it.  Nor  was  his  excel- 
lent preceptor  long  in  emphasizing  these  conditions  to  him 
and  advising  him  as  to  how  they  could  be  overcome  and 
made  incentives  to  give  him  not  only  admission  to  the  Bar, 
but  urge  him  forward  in  meeting  his  duty  so  as  to  win  a 
proud  and  honorable  standing  in  his  profession.  Such  con- 
ditions will  be  appreciated  when  it  is  understood  that  this 
young  colored  man  was  a  pioneer  in  legal  professional 
effort ;  that  he  was  undertaking  at  a  time  and  in  a  State  to 
pursue  professional  study,  when  the  statute  books  of  Ohio 
were  loaded  down  with  Black  Laws  so-called,  which  were 
intended  to  be,  as  they  were,  oppressive  of  the  colored  citi- 
zen, denying  him  every  opportunity  and  incentive  to  self- 
elevation  in  the  walks  of  ordinary  social,  civil,  political  and 
professional  life  ;  that  the  public  feeling  of  the  State  without 
regard  to  sect,  church  or  party,  fostered  and  sustained  such 
conditions  of  sentiment  and  law.  The  word  "  white  "  was 
used  then,  in  the  Constitution  of  Ohio,  in  the  clause  desig- 
nating those  persons  who  constituted  its  voters,  in  the 
phrase  of  such  document,  "  all  white  male  persons." 

The  young  student  had  advanced  but  a  short  distance  in 
study  before  his  preceptor  found  him  anxious  and  inquisi- 
tive as  to^his  admission  to  the  bar.  In  view  of  the  very 
language  of  the  Constitution  and  the  Black  Laws  of  the 
State,  he  was  exercised  as  to  whether  upon  the  completion 
of  his  studies  and  an  approved  examination,  he  could  be 
admitted  to  practise  law.  When  Judge  Bliss  found  that 
this  question  seemed  to  vex  and  harass  him,  he  bade  him  to 
give  himself  no  trouble  about  it,  as  he  would  be  prepared  to 
meet  any  question  of  color,  in  his  case,  when  attempt  was 
made  to  urge  it  against  him  so  as  to  prevent  or  hinder  his 
professional  career.  He  said  further  and  frankly  to  him, 
"  All  that  is  necessary  is  for  you  to  so  prepare  yourself  as  to 
pass  a  first-class  examination  and  thus  compel  a  favorable 
report  as  to  your  general  and  special  qualifications,  and  to 
this  end  I  shall  be  very  thorough  with  you,  for  we  must 
have  no  failure." 


122       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Thus  warned  and  assured,  the  first  young  colored  law- 
student  of  the  United  States,  studying  in  a  State  whose 
statute  books  were  black  with  prescriptive  acts  of  inhuman 
legislation,  redoubled  his  resolution,  and  pushed  forward 
against  the  odds  indicated  upon  a  sea  of  professional 
endeavor  unexplored,  up  to  that  time,  by  a  single  member 
of  his  race.  Not  wanting  in  hope  and  purpose,  relying  upon 
his  individual  powers,  of  which  he  felt  that  he  possessed 
reasonable  knowledge,  and  putting  due  estimate  upon  the 
learning  and  the  information  which  he  had  already  gained 
at  such  cost  of  time,  effort  and  outlay,  he  treated  them  all 
as  no  other  thing  than  an  important  and  valuable  reserved 
element  of  strength,  to  be  used  as  necessity  required.  Thus 
favorably  situated  and  encouraged,  the  colored  student 
applied  himself  to  the  subjects  of  study,  made  plain  and  in- 
teresting through  the  efforts  of  his  painstaking,  conscien- 
tious instructor.  Great  importance  was  attached  at  all 
times,  and  as  to  every  subject  of  the  law,  to  the  accuracy, 
the  fulness,  and  the  application,  in  theory  and  practice,  of 
all  definitions  by  Judge  Bliss ; — and  that  there  might  be 
no  mistake  made  here,  no  inattention  and  forgetfulness, 
he  cultivated  constant  reviews,  with  varied  and  changing 
explanations  of  the  law  principles,  the  doctrines  and  rules 
occurring  in  the  general  and  regular  lessons  of  the  various 
text-books  pursued.  His  illustrations  were  always  full, 
lucid  and  instructive,  being  so  presented  as  to  command 
the  attention  and  fix  his  instructions  in  the  memory. 
Exercises  in  writing  on  law  topics,  and  discussions  on  such 
subjects,  with  all  those  invaluable  advantages  connected 
with  the  well-organized  and  skillfully  conducted  moot  court, 
were  wanting.  The  training  which  they  would  have 
supplied  had  been  furnished  in  large  measure  in  the 
present  case  by  the  course  taken  already  in  the  theolog- 
ical school.  Besides,  Judge  Bliss  required  his  student  to 
attend  the  courts  regularly,  and  often  catechized  him  with 
regard  to  the  law  and  the  management  of  suits  tried,  civil 
and  criminal,  involving  intricate  special  principles  of  law, 
necessitating  wise  and  skillful  manipulation.  He  was  wont 


ADMITTED  TO  THE  BAR.  123 

also  to  dwell  to  his  student  on  the  various  apt  and  effective 
methods  and  styles  of  address  proper  to  be  made  to  the 
court  or  the  jury,  illustrating  what  he  might  have  to  say  by 
reference  to  the  noted  lawyers  who  visited  and  conducted 
the  more  celebrated  cases  in  his  judicial  district. 

Judge  Bliss  was  himself  an  admirable  lawyer,  scholarly  in 
his  accomplishments,  always  candid  and  earnest  in  his  state- 
ments of  law  and  fact  to  judge  or  jury,  bearing  himself  at 
all  times  as  master  of  his  cause,  cultivating  a  high  and  im- 
pressive style  of  forensic  utterance  which  was  distinguished 
for  its  logical  method  and  its  clear,  pure  English  diction. 
His  student  never  failed  to  hear  him  on  important  occasions, 
and  he  was  at  liberty,  even  urged  to  ask  any  question  in 
regard  to  the  general  management  of  a  case,  or  to  inquire 
why  special  turn  was  taken  at  any  point  in  its  conduct.  It 
is  not  difficult  to  perceive  that  a  vigilant  and  intelligent 
student  thus  situated  and  treated  would  make  rapid  and 
advantageous  progress  in  love  and  knowledge  of  the  subject 
of  his  constant  thought.  Under  these  circumstances  time 
moved  only  too  rapidly,  and  the  day  arrived  seemingly  too 
soon  when  the  colored  candidate  for  admission  to  the  Ohio 
Bar  must  quit  these  pleasant  places  and  surroundings  for 
the  stern,  real  and  trying  things  of  laborious  professional 
endeavor.  So  it  was  ! 

Two  years  had  passed,  and  credited  with  one  year's  study 
of  the  law  which  he  had  gained  in  the  last  two  years  of  his 
theological  course,  Judge  Bliss  gave  Mr.  Langston  the  usual 
certificate  required  as  to  his  character  and  attainments  in 
the  law,  and  moved  the  court  to  appoint  a  special  committee 
to  examine  him  for  admission  to  practice  as  an  attorney  and 
counsellor  at  law  and  solicitor  in  chancery.  This  action 
was  taken  at  a  term  of  the  District  Court  of  the  State  of 
Ohio  held  at  Elyria,  Lorain  County,  September  13,  1854. 
The  committee  appointed  consisted  of  three  of  the  best 
lawyers  practicing  at  that  Bar.  No  one  of  them  was 
friendly  to  the  new  proposition  of  admitting  a  colored  man 
to  practice  law  in  the  courts  of  Ohio.  Two  of  them  were 
men  of  age,  with  fixed  principles  and  feelings,  and  in  politics 


124       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Democrats.  The  third  was  a  younger  man,  of  improving 
liberal  sentiments  and  a  Whig  in  his  politics.  The  latter 
finally,  as  changes  were  made  in  national  and  local  political 
relationships,  became  an  ardent  Republican.  The  committee 
shortly  after  its  appointment  notified  Mr.  Langston  that  its 
meeting  would  be  held  at  the  office  of  the  gentleman  last 
referred  to  and  that  his  examination  would  commence  with- 
out delay.  Accordingly  he  appeared  promptly  at  the  place 
designated,  and  after  the  members  of  the  committee  had 
arranged  the  order  of  their  work  the  examination  began 
with  the  question,  "  What  is  law  ?  "  The  examiner  who 
propounded  this  question  occupied  himself  in  full  and  de- 
tailed canvass  of  all  those  matters  concerning  real  and  per- 
sonal property  as  treated  in  such  elementary  works  as  those 
of  Blackstone  and  Kent,  with  such  special  works  upon  these 
subjects  as  he  deemed  proper.  He  did  not  find  the  candi- 
date making  a  single  hesitation  in  view  of  any  question  put 
to  him,  and  when  he  had  finished  he  remarked  to  him,  "  I  am 
satisfied,"  and  to  his  associates,  "  He  has  done  well."  The 
next  examiner  according  to  arrangement  took  up  the  sub- 
jects of  contracts  and  evidence,  and  when  he  had  asked  all 
the  questions  he  desired  he  dismissed  the  subjects  with  the 
remark  to  the  student,  "  You  have  read  on  these  topics  with 
great  care  and  thoroughness."  The  young  Whig  lawyer 
then  commenced  his  part  of  the  work,  and  besides  showing 
an  excellent  temper  he  gave  evidence  of  large  and  critical 
knowledge  of  the  law  to  which  he  confined  his  examination. 
He  addressed  himself  to  the  matter  of  practice  and  plead- 
ing, and  did  so  with  great  skill  and  tact.  But  here  the  can- 
didate showed  thorough  preparation,  and  the  examiner 
closed  with  assurance  to  him  that  he  would  be  admitted, 
and  that  he  would  see  that  in  the  report  of  the  committee 
his  case  was  duly  and  fairly  treated. 

The  committee  made  its  report,  and  so  far  as  the  exami- 
nation and  its  results  were  concerned  reported  truthfully 
and  in  favor  of  the  colored  candidate.  He  was  found  to  be 
a  young  man  of  good  moral  character,  twenty-one  years  of 
age,  qualified  to  discharge  the  duties  of  an  attorney  and 
counsellor  at  law  and  a  solicitor  in  chancery,  and  a  citizen 


ADMITTED  TO  THE  BAR.  125 

of  the  State  of  Ohio  and  of  the  United  States.  So  far  so 
good  !  But  as  they  submitted  this  report  the  Democratic 
members  of  the  committee  suggested  verbally  nevertheless 
that  the  candidate  was  a  colored  man. 

Five  gentlemen,  judges,  composed  the  court.  The  one 
who  acted  as  chief  justice  was  a  member  and  assistant  justice 
of  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  State,  a  resident  of  the  south- 
ern part  of  Ohio,  where  the  feeling  against  the  colored  citi- 
zen was  intense  and  positive.  The  chief  justice  in  this 
case  was  inclined  to  throw  the  responsibility  of  disposing  of 
it  upon  his  associates  who  resided  in  the  upper  part  of  the 
State,  who  would  be  more  apt  to  meet  the  colored  lawyer 
in  their  courts  and  feel  the  consequences  of  his  admission. 
He  therefore  at  once  said  to  them,  that  they  might  do  as 
they  pleased  as  to  admitting  the  colored  applicant ;  that  he 
though  admitted,  would  probably  never  appear  before  him, 
and  that  he  was  not  specially  interested  in  the  matter. 

It  was  not  until  Judge  Bliss,  and  Mr.  Gerry  Boynton,  the 
Whig  examiner  already  referred  to,  had  invited  the  atten- 
tion of  the  court  quietly  to  the  language  of  the  report  of 
the  committee,  and  had  suggested  that  under  the  law  of 
Ohio  Mr.  Langston  was  a  "  white  man,"  that  the  court, 
especially  its  acting  chief  justice,  seemed  determined  to 
give  the  case  serious,  just  consideration.  At  this  juncture 
the  chief  justice  inquired  of  the  sheriff,  with  manifest 
warmth  of  feeling,  "Where  is  Mr.  Langston ?"  The  officer 
answered,  "  He  sits  within  the  Bar."  Whereupon  the 
judge  addressing  Mr.  Langston,  asked  him  to  stand  up. 
As  he  arose  the  judge  directed  him  to  come  forward  and 
be  sworn.  This  he  did,  and  subsequently  when  in  conver- 
sation with  the  same  judge  he  inquired  why  he  was  asked 
to  stand,  he  was  told  that  it  was  material  to  know  by  act- 
ual sight  what  his  color  was.  For  in  order  to  his  admission 
to  the  Bar  under  the  law  of  Ohio  as  then  expounded,  he 
must  be  construed  into  a  white  man,  as  he  was  at  once 
upon  sight. 

The  certificate  of  Mr.  Langston's  admission  to  the  Bar 
bears  date  Sept.  13,  1854. 
9 


CHAPTER  X. 

IMPORTANT     OCCURRENCES     WHICH    AFFECT    AND   DETER- 
MINE   HIS   CAREER. 

SUCH  was  the  untoward  condition  of  Mr.  Langston's 
health  when  he  had  completed  his  law  studies  and  been 
admitted  to  the  Bar,  that  his  friends  advised  and  urged  him 
to  consult  some  distinguished  and  reliable  physician  as  to 
what  he  had  better  do  to  regain,  fortify  and  sustain  it.  He 
did  consult  an  old  medical  friend,  and  upon  his  advice  and 
direction  purchased  and  moved  upon  a  farm  located  near 
Lake  Erie,  in  Brownhelm  Township,  Lorain  County,  Ohio, 
nine  miles  from  Oberlin,  the  most  active  town  in  the 
county  and  fourteen  miles  from  Elyria,  the  county-seat. 
He  was  to  remain  upon  the  farm  at  least  two  years,  and 
take  regular  daily  exercise  in  the  open  air  by  working  upon 
it.  To  all  of  which  he  consented  and  made  his  arrange- 
ments in  accordance  with  such  understanding. 

The  farm  which  he  purchased  and  was  to  occupy  con- 
sisted of  fifty  acres  of  the  most  beautiful  fertile  soil,  with 
every  improvement  of  buildings,  gardens,  orchards,  orna- 
mental trees  and  shrubbery,  with  such  woodlands  as  were 
necessary  to  supply  fuel  and  timber  for  preservation  of 
fences  and  buildings  upon  the  place.  The  productions  of 
the  farm  were  various  and  abundant.  The  meadows  beau- 
tiful in  their  solid  timothy,  yielded  crops  of  great  value  and 
richness  ;  while  the  fine  pasture-lands,  well-regulated  and 
thoroughly  watered,  afforded  rich  and  ample  feed  for  any 
126 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.     127 

cattle  and  sheep  brought  and  supported  upon  the  premises. 
The  orchards  were  large,  consisting  of  the  finest  varieties  of 
every  kind  of  fruits,  such  as  apples,  cherries  and  quinces,  as 
well  as  pears,  peaches  and  plums,  and  were  a  source  of  very 
considerable  revenue.  The  woods  abounded  in  excellent 
chestnut  and  hickory-nut  trees,  which  afforded  ample  sup- 
plies of  their  fruits  every  year,  and  when  carefully  gathered 
such  nuts  not  only  answered  the  wants  of  those  residing  upon 
the  farm,  but  many  of  them  were  sold  to  good  advantage. 
The  lands  used  for  annual  crops  were  easily  cultivated  and 
were  unusually  productive  of  corn  and  Irish  potatoes,  with' 
such  other  farm  products  as  were  generally  grown.  Mark- 
ing the  place  and  seen  from  great  distance  all  around  it, 
stood  a  great  towering  pine-tree,  growing  near  the  west 
corner  of  the  two-storied  frame  house  which  constituted  the 
mansion  of  the  farm.  The  gentleman  of  whom  the  place 
was  bought  was  a  farmer  of  excellent  knowledge,  wedded  to 
his  calling,  and  who  had  exhausted  his  skill  and  industry  in 
making  of  his  land,  located  by  him  and  secured  of  the 
Government  itself,  all  that  his  purpose,  ingenuity  and  long 
years  of  unremitting  diligence  could  make  of  it,  as  a  first- 
class  farm  and  delightful  home.  He  only  sold  it  that  he 
might  invest  in  more  capacious  landed  property  of  the  same 
sort  and  because  his  farm  thus  improved  commanded  a 
very  large  price. 

Mr.  Langston  was  not  long  after  his  purchase  in  locating 
himself  upon  this  farm.  He  arranged  with  an  English 
friend  of  his,  Mr.  Thomas  Slater,  to  bring  his  family,  con- 
sisting of  his  wife  and  son,  upon  the  place  and  make  for  its 
owner  such  a  home  as  would  be  mutually  agreeable  and 
pleasant.  Besides,  under  the  arrangement  made  with  his 
friend,  Mr.  Slater  was,  for  his  labors  and  those  of  his  family 
having  to  do  with  the  cultivation  and  care  of  the  property, 
including  all  domestic  necessary  duties,  to  have  an  interest 
in  all  the  products  of  the  place,  including  those  of  all  lands 
and  orchards  as  well  as  the  increase  of  all  animals.  Mr. 
Langston  was  not  more  fortunate  in  the  place  which  he 
bought  than  he  was  in  the  family  which  he  selected  and 


128       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

secured  to  come  upon  and  manage  it  for  him.  Mr.  Slater 
and  Mrs.  Slater  proved  to  be  just  the  persons  exactly  whom 
he  needed  and  would  have,  and  their  son  John,  an  excellent 
young  man,  was  in  every  respect  a  worthy  and  congenial 
companion  for  him.  In  such  a  family,  with  the  pleasant 
atmosphere  which  pervaded  the  household  through  its  influ- 
ence and  direction,  Mr.  Langston  found  himself  entirely  at 
home,  with  every  want  often  anticipated  and  constantly, 
cheerfully  and  promptly  met.  The  contract  made  with  Mr. 
Slater  covered  the  full  two  years  which  Mr.  Langston  had 
expected  to  devote  to  his  farming  enterprise. 

In  his  purchase  of  Mr.  Ebenezer  Jones,  Mr.  Langston 
had  included  all  the  personal  property  such  as  tools,  farm- 
ing implements,  wagons  and  harness,  corn  and  hay,  with  all 
maturing  crops  of  every  sort.  Hence  it  was  necessary,  since 
he  was  to  have  immediate  possession,  that  he  and  his  help 
go  at  once  to  work  caring  for  his  interests.  When  Mr. 
Jones  made  the  sale  he  advised  the  purchaser  that  there  was 
but  one  single  person  residing  in  the  neighborhood  whose 
conduct  would  be  likely  in  any  way  to  render  his  residence 
there  in  any  sense  disagreeable.  The  lands  of  the  person 
referred  to  adjoined  the  Jones  farm  upon  the  west,  and  to 
accommodate  Mr.  Jones,  whose  farm  lay  back  from  either 
county  road,  passing  to  the  eastward  and  westward  thereof, 
a  township  road  had  been  opened  from  the  limits  of  either 
side  of  the  farm  to  both  county  roads  mentioned,  and  the 
one  part  of  such  township  road  running  to  the  westward 
crossed  the  lands  of  the  person  named  by  him.  So  far  as 
the  Jones  farm  was  concerned,  though  the  township  road 
was  established  for  its  convenience  and  benefit,  it  was  not 
made  to  constitute  any  part  of  such  road,  nor  in  anywise 
disturbed  or  injured  thereby.  Nevertheless  by  common 
consent  anyone  desiring  to  do  so  was  permitted,  passing  by 
the  draw-bars  on  one  side  and  the  gate  on  the  other,  to  use 
the  lane  running  through  the  Jones  farm.  And  it  was  well 
understood  when  Mr.  Langston  took  possession  of  it,  that 
no  one  passed  over  the  lane  afoot  or  by  conveyance  more 
frequently  than  his  neighbor,  to  whom  Mr.  Jones  made 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  PUS  CAREER.     129 

allusion.  The  brother  of  this  man  had  also  ventured  to  say 
to  Mr.  Langston  upon  an  early  visit  which  he  had  made  to 
him  after  he  had  taken  possession  of  his  new  home,  that  he 
feared  his  brother,  the  very  person  referred  to,  would  prove 
to  be  a  disagreeable  and  unsatisfactory  neighbor.  Thus 
warned,  Mr.  Langston  had  determined  to  do  whatever  he 
might  to  win  and  conciliate  this  neighbor.  Hence,  as  he 
passed  down  the  lane  one  morning  on  his  way  to  the  post- 
office,  as  was  his  habit,  Mr.  Langston  and  Mr.  Slater  being 
at  work  in  their  potato-field  near  the  lane,  the  former 
advised  the  latter  that  upon  his  return  he  was  determined 
to  pay  his  respects  to  his  neighbor.  >  This  neighbor  by 
reason  of  certain  services  which  he  had  rendered  his  coun- 
try, and  certain  position  which  he  had  won  in  the  days  of 
the  "  Cornstalk  Militia,"  was  known  as  and  called  Col.  Frank 
Peck,  and  was  distinguished  for  the  inveteracy  of  his 
Hunker  Democracy  and  his  unconquerable  hatred  of  aboli- 
tionism and  the  negro.  On  his  return  Colonel  Peck  had 
reached  a  point  in  the  lane  just  opposite  Mr.  Langston, 
when  the  latter  addressed  him,  employing  in  most  respect- 
ful manner  the  words,  "  Good-morning,  Colonel  Peck  !  "  No 
attention  whatever  was  paid  to  this  salutation,  until  it  had 
been  very  emphatically  repeated.  Then  reply  was  made  by 
the  colonel  in  gruff,  savage  manner,  "Who  are  you?" 
Whereupon  he  also  came  to  a  halt,  and  Mr.  Langston  pro- 
ceeded in  becoming  spirit  and  respectful  phrase  to  intro- 
duce himself  to  this  person,  who  seemed  very  much 
chagrined  that  he  should  be  thus  accosted,  particularly 
since  such  a  thing  had  been  done  by  a  colored  person,  and 
one  who  had  been  educated  at  the  abolition,  negro-loving 
school  of  Oberlin.  He  even  went  so  far  as  to  say  that  he 
wanted  nothing  to  do  with  any  such  person,  educated  at 
such  an  institution.  Notwithstanding,  Mr.  Langston  was 
not  easily  frightened,  and  did  not  fail  to  hear  attentively 
all  that  was  said  and  to  defend  valiantly  and  soundly  the 
institution  from  which  he  had  received  his  education.  He 
even  went  so  far  as  to  advise  Colonel  Peck  that  he  and  his 
family  would  find  themselves  greatly  benefited  by  sending 


130       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

his  sons  and  daughters  to  Oberlin  to  be  educated,  and  to  be 
advanced  morally  and  enlightened  politically.  While  this 
interview  had  upon  the  highway  did  not  seem  to  be  wholly 
satisfactory  to  Colonel  Peck,  it  was  counted  a  victory  by  Mr. 
Langston,  and  did  result  finally  in  such  good  understanding 
between  them  that  they  became,  though  differing  in  politics, 
agreeable  neighbors  and  real  friends. 

Mr  Langston  had  not  been  long  upon  his  farm,  not  more 
perhaps  than  ten  days  or  two  weeks,  when  an  attorney 
living  in  the  neighborhood,  doing  business  in  some  two  or 
three  adjoining  counties,  especially  before  the  justices  of 
the  peace,  called  to  see  him.  He  came  to  secure  his 
services  as  his  assistant  in  an  important  and  interesting  case, 
to  be  tried  before  the  most  active  and  influential  justice  of 
Brownhelm  Township,  who  held  his  court  at  the  center  of 
that  town.  The  case  was  one  which  as  regarded  the  parties 
and  the  matter  in  litigation,  was  well  calculated  to  bring 
together  a  large  number  of  persons,  and  by  reason  of 
the  fact  that  it  would  be  tried  by  a  jury  of  good  and  true 
men  of  the  vicinage,  offer  to  an  unknown  and  untried 
lawyer  of  tact  and  talent  a  fine  opportunity  to  display  his 
ability  and  skill  and  thus  bring  him  name  and  business. 

No  writer  shall  ever  be  able  to  describe  the  feelings 
produced  in  Mr.  Langston's  mind  by  this  visit,  nor  shall 
any  philosopher  be  able  to  explain  how  he  was  able  to 
contain  himself  while  such  feelings  held  masterhood  of  his 
being !  He  had  been  told  that  no  one  would,  in  all  proba- 
bility, offer  him  legal  business  of  any  sort,  and  he  had  feared 
that  no  opportunity  would  ever  come  to  him,  situated  as 
he  was,  in  connection  with  which  he  might  be  able  to  make 
any  demonstration  of  talent,  learning,  skill,  or  power  as  a 
lawyer.  A  thousand  times  he  had  been  warned  that  the 
fate  of  the  negro  was  sealed,  and  in  the  decree  which  fixed 
the  destiny  of  the  blackhued  son  of  the  race  his  own  posi- 
tion was  determined  and  settled  !  But  now  he  saw  a  new 
light,  and  his  soul  was  aroused  and  fired  by  even  a  new  and 
better  hope ! 

Mr.  Hamilton  Perry  called  upon  Mr.  Langston,  seeking 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.     131 

to  interest  him  in  the  case  mentioned  to  the  extent,  at 
least,  of  securing  his  assistance,  and  if  not  so  much, 
certainly  his  counsel,  with  interchange  of  opinions.  Mr 
Perry  was  frank  and  made  full  statement  to  Mr.  Langston, 
explaining  how  he  ought  not  to  let  this  chance  pass  unim- 
proved, and  insisting  that  if  he  should  take  hold  in  earnest, 
and  do  as  well  as  might  be  expected  of  a  person  of  his 
learning,  it  would  give  him  prestige  and  influence,  resulting 
it  might  be  in  very  large  professional  advantage.  After  a 
full  consultation,  a  careful  canvass  of  the  facts  of  the  case 
and  the  law  respecting  it  to  be  urged  and  enforced  in  order 
to  success  at  the  trial,  Mr.  Langston  engaged  to  join  Mr 
Perry,  and  the  two  resolved  to  do  their  best  and  utmost  to 
win  the  suit. 

One  week  from  the  day  of  this  call  and  conference,  the 
case  in  question  was  to  be  tried.  So  it  was — and  so  large 
was  the  attendance  and  so  great  the  interest  excited  by  it, 
that  the  justice  of  the  peace  had  to  move  out  of  his  large 
office  in  his  house  to  a  more  capacious  barn-room,  where  the 
trial  was  conducted.  The  plaintiff  in  the  case  was  repre- 
sented by  one  of  the  ablest  and  most  noted  young  lawyers 
of  the  county-seat,  Mr.  Stevenson  Burke.  To  wm  a  suit 
against  him  was  considered  in  those  days  a  great  achieve- 
ment, especially  when  he  had  brought  it,  as  in  this  instance. 
The  defendant  was  represented  by  Messrs.  Hamilton  Perry 
and  John  M.  Langston.  When  the  case  was  called  and  the 
parties  had  duly  answered,  a  jury  was  demanded,  as  of 
right  by  the  defendant.  The  jurors  selected  from  the  by- 
standers soon  took  their  seats,  and  after  being  sworn  to 
the  proper  discharge  of  their  duty,  heard  the  statement  of 
the  attorney  for  the  plaintiff  and  that  of  Mr.  Perry  for  the 
defendant.  The  case,  as  developed  in  such  statements,  was 
one  as  known  in  the  law  of  forcible  entry  and  detainer,  and 
the  question  to  be  settled  was  whether  the  plaintiff,  the 
owner  of  certain  premises  involved,  was  entitled  to  their 
immediate  possession,  as  against  the  defendant  who  held 
and  occupied  them.  Witnesses  were  called,  sworn  and  ex- 
amined in  the  interest  of  the  plaintiff.  Their  cross-exami- 


132       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

nation  was  at  first  attempted  by  Mr.  Perry ;  but  very  soon 
this  work  was  given  Mr.  Langston,  and  he  succeeded  so 
well  at  it  that  by  consent,  even  the  urgent  request  of  his 
associate,  he  conducted  it  to  the  end.  Besides,  he  exam- 
ined in  chief  all  the  witnesses  testifying  in  behalf  of  the  de- 
fendant. The  suit  commenced  at  one  o'clock  in  the  after- 
noon, was  not  submitted  for  argument  to  the  jury  before 
nine  in  the  evening.  The  interest  in  it  did  not  flag,  and 
when  it  was  agreed  and  announced  that  two  addresses  only 
would  be  made,  one  by  Mr.  Langston  and  the  other  by  Mr. 
Burke,  the  bystanders  crowded  the  barn-room  in  earnest 
and  deep  attention.  By  arrangement  the  former  person 
addressed  the  jury  first,  commanding  the  undivided  inter- 
est of  the  court,  the  jury  and  his  auditors,  from  the  begin- 
ning to  the  end  of  his  remarks.  Mr.  Burke  followed  in  one 
of  his  most  entertaining,  lucid  and  interesting  addresses, 
everyone  present  giving  him  respectful  and  attentive  hear- 
ing. Upon  the  conclusion  of  his  address,  the  court 
charged  the  jury,  and  without  leaving  their  seats  they  gave 
a  unanimous  verdict  in  favor  of  the  defendant. 

This  was  a  grand  closing  for  Mr.  Langston.  Never  did 
American  lawyer  leave  a  court  house  with  more  grateful 
feelings  in  his  triumph  than  he  did  the  barn  of  'Justice 
Samuel  Curtiss  on  that  ever  famous  Saturday  night  of  Oc- 
tober, 1854,  when  he  had  won  by  verdict  of  an  honest 
American  jury,  the  first  cause  which  he  was  permitted  to 
aid  in  trying.  Mr.  Perry  was  happy  enough,  for  he  had 
staked  his  reputation  largely  upon  the  results  of  this  trial. 
But  Mr.  Langston  felt  that  his  all  was  staked  upon  it,  and 
he  labored  and  spoke  in  it  with  the  earnestness  and  power 
of  one  who  would  win  victory  against  any  and  every  oppo- 
sition. On  his  return  to  his  house,  reaching  it  at  midnight, 
accompanied  as  he  was  by  Mr.  Slater,  who  had  kept  near 
him  during  all  the  hours  of  the  trial,  ready  to  rejoice  with 
him  should  success  reward  his  efforts,  they  found  Mrs.  Sla- 
ter anxious  about  them  both,  overjoyed  upon  their  arrival 
and  report  as  to  the  great  victory  which  had  been  won. 
The  good  woman  had  made  her  best  cup  of  tea,  provided 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.      133 

her  most  inviting  country  supper,  and  offering  all  in  the 
very  best  condition,  bade  Mr.  Langston  and  her  husband  to 
partake  with  her  to  their  fullest  satisfaction.  This  was  a 
home  full  now  of  unalloyed,  positive  and  earnest  rejoicing. 

The  following  Sabbath  morning,  bright  and  beautiful  as 
it  was,  bathed  in  light  and  happiness  a  home  which,  though 
it  contained  neither  the  father,  nor  mother,  nor  brother, 
nor  sister,  nor  other  relative  of  Mr.  Langston  to  rejoice  with 
him,  was  full  of  the  kindly  esteem  and  regard  of  those 
who,  though  only  employed  by  him  and  of  another  and  for- 
eign nationality,  gave  him  their  sympathy,  as  they  did  their 
care  and  services.  As  already  intimated,  four  persons,  an 
aged  English  gentleman,  an  aged  English  woman,  their 
only  child  and  Mr.  Langston,  were  the  persons  who  com- 
posed this  household.  As  they  sat  together  about  the 
breakfast  table,  on  the  memorable  Sabbath  morning  men- 
tioned, many  were  the  warm  earnest  words  uttered  by  his 
friends  in  commendation  of  his  efforts  and  success  the 
night  before,  all  speaking  as  if  their  glory  belonged  cer- 
tainly to  the  whole  family.  The  old  gentleman  had  just 
finished  telling  how  one  of  the  neighbors  had  spoken  of  the 
colored  lawyer  while  addressing  the  jury,  and  how  the 
crowd  generally  seemed  to  be  moved  by  his  speech,  pre- 
dicting that  great  success  would  follow  it,  when  a  knock 
was  made  at  the  door.  He  stepping  forward,  opened  it  to 
find  a  person  there  inquiring  for  the  lawyer.  The  caller 
was  invited  in,  and  at  once  on  meeting  the  attorney  made 
known  his  errand. 

The  stranger  had  come  to  retain  Mr.  Langston  to  defend 
him  upon  a  charge  of  selling  liquor  to  be  drunk,  contrary  to 
law,  where  sold.  Full  conversation  was  had  with  respect  to 
the  case,  the  retainer  paid,  and  the  engagement  settled  for 
Mr.  Langston's  services.  This  person  had  but  just  left  the 
door,  when  another  appeared  upon  a  similar  mission  ;  and 
then  followed  a  third  ;  and  so  it  continued  the  whole  day, 
until  the  lawyer  declared  that  he  had  been  engaged  for 
days  in  advance,  and  his  pockets  were  full  of  retainers. 
Such  was  in  fact  the  case.  The  temperance  people  living 


134       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

in  Lorain  and  adjoining  counties  had  just  commenced  pro- 
ceedings against  liquor  venders,  vulnerable  to  actions  under 
the  anti-whiskey  law  of  Ohio,  and  the  prosecutions  were  nu- 
merous and  vigorous,  giving  special  anxiety  to  those  who 
had  been  exposed  and  were  being  called  to  judicial  account. 
As  Mr.  Langston  found  his  services  even  in  such  cases  in 
general  positive  demand,  in  behalf  of  a  clientage  willing  to 
retain  and  pay  him  well,  he  counted  himself  fortunate  in- 
deed in  the  opportunity  which  he  had  enjoyed  in  connec- 
tion with  the  suit  tried  with  Mr.  Perry.  Often  in  conversa- 
tions had  with  his  old  colleague,  the  latter  has  claimed  that 
he  gave  the  first  colored  lawyer  of  Ohio  his  start  in  profes- 
sional life.  Whether  the  statement  in  such  form  be  true 
or  not,  Mr.  Langston  has  ever  felt  and  believed  that  Mr. 
Perry  did  him  a  great  special  service  when  he  gave  him  the 
privilege  of  appearing  and  taking  such  conspicuous  part  in 
the  management  of  the  suit  in  which  they  were  associated. 

Mr.  Langston's  business  from  this  time  grew  rapidly. 
Such  was  the  demand  for  his  services  in  a  professional  way 
that  he  abandoned  any  further  idea  of  working  on  his  farm. 
With  his  improving  health  following  his  labors  and  the  ex- 
citement connected  with  them,  his  determination  to  make  a 
success  of  his  law  business  increased  and  intensified  itself. 
Each  case  tried  by  him  seemed  to  multiply  his  clients  and 
enlarge  the  circle  of  his  acquaintances  and  opportunities. 
He  succeeded  in  a  most  remarkable  manner,  his  clients  in- 
cluding Irishmen,  Englishmen  and  Americans  living  in  the 
different  adjoining  counties  to  that  of  his  residence.  In  all 
criminal  proceedings  he  discovered  an  aptness,  skill  and  suc- 
cess which  were  certainly  unusual.  He  cleared  quite  every 
one  charged  with  crime  whose  defence  he  attempted,  so  that 
persons  in  trouble  came  from  distant  places  to  secure  his 
services  and  paid  him  therefor  large  amounts.  All  his 
clients  were  willing  as  they  were  able  to  pay  him  well  and 
liberally.  Within  less  than  one  year  after  his  admission  to 
the  Bar,  and  within  less  than  a  year  after  his  first  suit,  his 
practice  had  become  exacting  and  lucrative.  His  clients 
were  all  white  persons  at  this  time  and  chiefly  those  who 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.     135 

acted  politically  with  the  Democratic  party.  Such  persons 
did  not  seem  however  to  fear  Mr.  Langston's  color,  nor  on 
account  of  it  to  question  his  ability  and  skill.  They  sought 
him  and  his  services  as  if  they  had  the  largest  respect  for 
him  personally  and  full  confidence  in  his  learning,  ingenuity 
and  fidelity. 

The  home  which  Mr.  Langston  had  provided  in  Brown- 
helm  was  an  elegant  and  desirable  one  for  the  neighbor- 
hood, and  as  found  in  his  possession  and  occupation  proved 
to  be  attractive  and  inviting  to  his  friends,  many  of  whom 
spent  days  and  sometimes  weeks  with  him.  The  buildings 
upon  the  place,  though  of  old  style,  were  numerous  and  con- 
venient for  the  preservation  of  all  products  and  the  protec- 
tion and  care  of  all  stock,  wagons  and  implements.  The 
dwelling-house  was  of  fair  size,  with  several  large  rooms 
above  and  below,  and  with  a  great  capacious  cellar.  Sit- 
uated as  he  was  it  was  pleasant  for  even  the  most  refined 
who  paid  visits  to  Mr.  Langston  to  desire  and  consent  to 
remain  as  long  as  might  be  in  this  agreeable  rural  retreat. 
Persons  of  noted  character,  especially  leading  reformers, 
white  and  colored,  frequently  came  to  this  home,  and  were 
gladly  and  hospitably  entertained. 

The  town  of  Brownhelm  was  a  most  delightful  and  agree- 
able one  in  all  its  natural  and  more  prominent  artificial 
features.  Five  miles  square,  according  to  the  New  England 
method  of  limitation  and  survey,  it  covered  two  most  beau- 
tiful ridges  in  its  site,  inclining  northward  to  the  lake  upon 
which  it  was  located  ;  eastward  and  westward  to  small 
streams  making  their  way  to  the  larger  body  of  water  and 
southward  to  the  great  prairie  lands  extending  off  to  the 
lower  parts  of  Lorain  County.  There  was  not  a  farm  in 
this  township  which  was  not  cultivated  in  most  approved 
manner  and  to  the  full  extent  of  its  area.  The  population 
settled  there  was  of  New  England  blood  and  origin,  Puritan 
in  thought,  purpose,  education  and  character.  Reforma- 
tory sentiments,  religious,  political  and  anti-slavery,  found 
quick  and  general  growth  among  its  people.  Some  fami- 
lies located  in  this  community  were  made  famous  and  con- 


136       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

spicuous  in  the  earliest  days  of  the  anti-slavery  movement 
for  their  brave,  extreme,  radical  utterances  and  professions 
with  respect  to  the  enslaved  and  freed  classes  of  the  negro 
race.  It  was  in  this  town  and  chief  among  its  people,  that 
a  noted  family  coming  from  Massachusetts  settled  in  a  con- 
spicuous place,  and  at  once  gave  character  and  name  to  the 
whole  community.  Prominent  in  the  church  and  controll- 
ing in  social  circles,  this  family  had  more  to  do  than  any 
other  in  directing  and  sustaining  any  new  sentiment  or 
view,  brought  into  the  place  by  any  advocate  there,  anxious 
to  impress  and  promote  it  upon  and  among  the  people.  It 
was  this  family  which  gave  Oberlin  College  in  its  early  days 
two  of  its  best  and  ablest  students  among  the  young  men, 
and  three  of  its  most  efficient  and  admired  students  among 
the  young  women.  The  father  of  this  family  was  Grandi- 
son  Fairchild,  and  his  two  sons  to  whom  reference  is  made, 
were  Rev.  Edward  M.  Fairchild,  late  president  of  Berea 
College,  Kentucky,  now  dead ;  and  Rev.  James  H.  Fair- 
child,  so  long  a  professor  and  for  twenty  odd  years  the  presi- 
dent of  Oberlin  College,  still  living  at  the  advanced  age  of 
seventy-three  years.  A  third  son  of  this  family,  an  older 
man  than  either  of  his  brothers  named,  but  who  was  not  so 
well  known  to  the  public,  generally,  since  he  led  a  less  con- 
spicuous and  more  humble  life,  was  a  person  of  excellent 
character,  brave  and  outspoken  in  every  conviction  and  duty* 
His  name  was  Charles  Fairchild.  He  lived  and  labored  in 
Brownhelm,  where  he  was  carried  as  a  small  boy,  upon  a 
farm,  and  yet  always  conducting  himself  in  such  way  as  to 
win  the  respect  and  confidence  of  all  who  knew  him. 

Against  no  human  being  on  account  of  his  color,  his 
nationality  or  his  former  condition  of  enslavement,  did  this 
family  in  any  one  of  its*  members  ever  discover  any  other 
than  a  just,  humane  and  generous  sentiment.  Earnest  and 
positive  in  their  opposition  to  slavery,  they  held  themselves 
ready,  under  all  circumstances,  to  do  all  in  their  power  to 
elevate,  educate  and  save  the  poor,  ignorant  and  degraded 
son  or  daughter  of  any  class  of  mankind,  however  brought 
to  their  lowly  condition,  by  action  of  the  tyrant  or  the 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.      137 

slave-holder.  Such  was  the  material  of  which  this  repre- 
sentative family  of  the  Brownhelm  community  was  com- 
posed ; — and  such,  fortunately,  was  the  character  of  the 
community  itself,  mainly,  whose  best  and  most  valuable 
elements  were  of  the  highest  social  dignity. 

This  community  was,  like  the  family  described,  really  and 
truthfully  exceptional  even  in  the  northern  part  of  Ohio  and 
upon  the  Western  Reserve.  At  this  time  the  prevailing 
sentiment  upon  the  Reserve  was  anti-negro  and  of  positive 
destestable  pro-slavery  character  in  its  hatred  of  such  a  com- 
munity and  college  as  those  of  Oberlin.  The  following 
circumstance  illustrates  and  sustains  this  statement  :  Dis- 
cussion of  political  popular  character  was  just  being  at- 
tempted upon  the  subject  of  slavery,  as  especially  to  its 
aggressions  upon  Northern  rights  and  interests.  Feeling 
against  its  spread  northward  was  exhibiting  itself  in  more 
positive  political  action,  and  in  some  localities  attempts  to 
elect  positively  anti-slavery  men  to  Congress  were  being 
made.  This  was  true  in  the  Lorain  County  Congressional 
District,  and  Dr.  Norton  S.  Townsend  had  been  nominated 
and  was  conducting  a  spirited  and  earnest  canvass  for  his 
election.  It  was  deemed  advisable  by  the  congressional 
executive  committee  that  meetings  be  held  in  which  Liberty 
sentiments  might  be  boldly  enunciated  and  defended  in 
every  more  important  place  in  the  district.  Among  other 
places  a  meeting  was  announced  for  French  Creek,  in  Avon 
Township,  Lorain  County.  The  gentlemen  who  were  to 
speak  at  this  meeting  were  three  white  persons.  Liberty  men, 
and  Mr.  John  M.  Langston,  a  colored  man.  The  last-named 
gentleman  was  to  make  the  closing  address.  Two  of  the 
other  gentlemen  had  spoken  and  the  third  was  making  his 
remarks  when  a  person  in  the  audience  propounded  to  him 
this  question,  "  Are  you  in  favor  of  nigger  social  equality?" 
The  young  white  man  addressed  showed  the  greatest  em- 
barrassment at  once  and  the  greatest  possible  hesitation,  so 
that  the  audience,  seeing  his  condition,  in  claps  of  the  hands, 
stamping  of  the  feet  and  other  demonstrations  of  their  feel- 
ings against  him  and  his  sentiments,  utterly  overpowered 


138       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

him.  He  was  unable  to  proceed.  In  this  confusion  the 
young  orator  brought  his  remarks  to  a  close  by  announcing 
that  Mr.  Langston  would  follow  him  and  address  the  people. 
It  was  very  manifest  from  all  that  was  said  and  done  at  this 
time  that  the  feeling  of  the  community  ran  high  against  the 
negro  and  his  freedom.  It  was  apparent  that  the  person 
who  had  propounded  the  question  presented  had  sounded 
the  key-note  of  popular  feeling.  However,  Mr.  Langston 
was  at  once  introduced  and  attempted  in  careful  though 
earnest  and  manly  manner  to  meet  such  feeling  and  if  pos- 
sible turn  it  somewhat  if  not  wholly  in  favor  of  his  race. 
He  stated  first  of  all  the  question  which  had  been  put  to  his 
friend  and  which  had  created  the  confusion,  presenting  it  as 
strongly  against  himself  and  all  others  similarly  interested 
as  possible.  Then  he  proceeded  to  show  what  the  move- 
ment which  he  advocated  had  to  do  with  freedom  as  the 
birthright  of  all,  and  how  social  equality  was  a  matter  depen- 
dent upon  individual  choice,  favor  or  otherwise,  and  that  it 
was  only  the  enemy  of  human  rights  who  would  undertake 
to  obtrude  that  subject  against  reasonable  demand  in  favor 
equal  freedom.  At  this  time  Oberlin  College  because  of  its 
fair  humane  treatment  of  colored  people  was  the  object  of 
intense  general  hatred,  and  when  appeal  was  made  against 
one  urging  the  claims  of  the  negro  and  the  opponent  would 
thoroughly  and  completely  vanquish  such  person,  he  had 
the  means  in  his  power  ordinarily  could  he  charge  that  he 
had  been  educated  at  Oberlin  College.  Mr.  Langston  had 
closed  his  comments  upon  the  question  asked  and  had 
evidently  made  a  very  serious  and  favorable  impression  upon 
his  hearers,  when  the  gentleman  who  had  offered  it  in  seem- 
ing rage  and  in  his  last  appeal  to  popular  prejudice  against 
him  cried  out  at  the  top  of  his  voice,  even  screaming,  address- 
ing Mr.  Langston,  said,  "  You  learned  that  at  Oberlin  !  " 
When  it  was  discovered  upon  Mr.  Langston's  admission 
that  this  statement  was  true  and  no  great  harm  had  been  done, 
and  that  he  still  held  the  audience,  the  same  individual  cried 
out  again,  screaming  as  before,  "  You  learned  another  thing 
at  Oberlin  !  You  learned  to  walk  with  white  women  there  !  " 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.     139 

Nothing  daunted  by  the  accusation  implied  in  these  words, 
employed  even  under  such  trying  circumstances,  Mr.  Lang- 
ston  quickly  admitted  their  truth,  and  advancing  to  the  very 
verge  of  the  platform,  retorted  upon  the  officious  negro- 
hater  who  had  used  them,  "  If  you  have  in  your  family  any 
good-looking,  intelligent,  refined  sisters,  you  would  do  your 
family  a  special  service  by  introducing  me  to  them  at  once." 
In  the  midst  of  the  sudden  surprising  outburst  of  popular 
applause  following  this  remark  and  in  approval  of  it,  an  old 
gray-headed  Democrat  addressed  his  vanquished  friend,  say- 
ing, "  Joe  Ladd,  you  d — n  fool,  sit  down  !  That  darkey  is  too 
smart  for  you  !  Sit  down!"  These  last  words  convulsed 
the  audience,  and  Mr.  Langston  retired  from  the  stand  in 
triumph,  and  Avon  Township  on  election  day  was  carried 
by  a  large  majority  for  Dr.  Townsend. 

It  will  be  perceived  that  such  public  feeling  as  prevailed 
in  Brownhelm  Township,  giving  the  colored  class  recogni- 
tion and  kindly  treatment,  was  fortunate  indeed  for  one  sit- 
uated as  Mr.  Langston,  and  it  was  from  the  beginning  to 
the  end  profoundly  appreciated  and  valued  by  him. 

Among  the  friends  who  made  him  visits,  and  learned  of 
his  situation  in  a  country  neighborhood  so  admirably 
adapted  for  pleasant  business  and  domestic  relationships,  he 
was  often  asked  why  he  did  not  marry,  and  advised  to  do 
so  as  a  matter  of  proper  economy  and  real  happiness.  Not 
a  few  proffered  him  their  good  offices  in  this  matter,  and 
some  even  went  so  far  as  to  assure  him  that  his  early 
marriage  was  indispensable  to  his  success  and  prosperity.  He 
accepted  all  such  wise  and  kind  suggestions,  and  heard, 
respectfully,  every  word  of  cordial  proffer  in  such  regard. 
About  this  time,  however,  Mr  Slater  and  his  wife  found, 
that  often  after  what  was  called  a  hard  day's  work,  Mr 
Langston  would  order  his  horse  and  buggy  to  drive  to 
Oberlin,  and  often  he  would  not  return  till  early  the  next 
morning,  giving  as  apology  for  his  sojourn  in  that  village, 
that  he  could  not  pull  himself  away  from  his  friends. 
Finally,  one  of  his  most  intimate  and  best  friends,  a  young 
man  whom  he  always  entertained  with  great  pleasure,  of 


140       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

whom  he  had  the  highest  opinion,  and  in  whose  judgment 
he  placed  the  greatest  confidence,  came  to  spend  three  or 
four  days  with  him.  In  addition  to  his  business,  he  had 
occupied  considerable  time  during  the  days  and  the  even- 
ings which  this  friend  spent  with  him,  in  talking  over  the 
most  serious  change  which  he  contemplated  in  his  domestic 
relations.  He  was  frank  and  conscientious  in  his  revelations 
and  expressions  of  purpose  on  this  subject  with  his  friend. 
He  even  went  so  far  as  to  tell  him  the  name  of  the  young 
lady  to  whom  he  felt  that  he  might  present  his  petition  for 
marriage,  to  all  of  which  his  young  friend  not  only  gave 
his  approving  judgment,  but  offered  also  to  bear  the 
letter  to  the  person  to  whom  Mr.  Langston  would  make 
communication  with  such  petition.  The  sun  was  just  set- 
ting as  Mr.  Slater,  having  invited  this  young  gentleman  to 
take  a  seat  in  the  carriage  by  his  side,  was  moving  off  be- 
hind two  of  the  finest  horses  in  the  neighborhood,  when  Mr 
Langston  addressing  his  friend,  said  to  him,  "  Now,  deliver 
the  letter  in  good  style,"  when  the  reply  was  returned,  "  Ah,, 
indeed !  "  Mr  Slater  had  not  been  long  in  going  up  to 
Oberlin  and  returning,  for  his  horses  were  fine  movers  and 
knew  every  inch  of  the  ground  and  how  to  make  the  dis- 
tance quickly  and  with  ease.  The  first  question  asked  him 
as  he  reached  the  stable  and  began  to  unhitch  the  team,  was 
"  Was  the  letter  delivered  ?  "  to  which  he  answered,  "  Yes, 
sir."  Not  many  days  thereafter,  the  answer  to  his  letter 
was  received,  and  Mr  Langston,  indicated  to  his  good  friends 
of  the  house  that  it  would  not  be  long  before  he  would 
have  to  share  his  home  and  happiness  with  one  whose  stay 
would  be  permanent.  Preparations  for  his  marriage  were 
at  once  undertaken,  and  the,  young,  handsome  North 
Carolina  lady,  reared  in  Harveysburg,  Ohio,  and  educated 
at  Oberlin  College,  to  the  surprise  of  many,  but  to  the 
delight  of  all  their  friends,  became  the  wife  of  Mr.  Langston 
and  the  mistress  of  his  home. 

This  marriage  was  not  a  hasty  one.  The  parties  had 
known  each  other  well,  and  were  acquainted  with  their  re- 
spective circumstances.  Mr.  Langston  had  met  Miss  Caro- 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.      141 

line  M.  Wall  in  1851,  and  by  an  interesting  confluence  of 
events  he  met  her  again  in  1852.  The  first  meeting  was  at 
Oberlin,  and  the  second  at  her  own  home  in  Harveysburg. 
Mr.  Langston's  visit  to  Harveysburg  at  the  time  referred 
to,  was  made  in  connection  with  a  public  mission  upon 
which  he  had  been  sent  with  reference  to  the  education  of 
the  colored  youth  of  Ohio.  A  number  of  persons,  white 
and  colored,  students  of  Oberlin  College,  had  organized  in 
the  early  fall  of  1852,  an  association  whose  aim  was  to  cre- 
ate and  foster  an  educational  feeling  in  favor  of  the  class 
mentioned,  and  to  stimulate  and  direct  any  purpose  found 
existing  among  negro  parents  to  provide  such  school  oppor- 
tunities for  their  children  as  might  be  practicable,  the  asso- 
ciation holding  itself  responsible  for  the  supply  of  teachers 
of  all  schools  thus  established.  The  association  was  with- 
out funds,  and  neither  able  to  employ  an  agent  nor  to  sup- 
ply needed  means  of  transportation.  Mr.  Langston  being  a 
member  of  the  association,  and  feeling  deeply  interested  in 
the  object  which  it  had  in  view,  offered  his  services  with 
conveyance,  as  indicated,  free  of  all  charge  to  either  the  as- 
sociation or  the  public.  His  offer  was  gladly  accepted, 
when  he  entered  upon  the  work,  travelling  from  the  lake  to 
the  Ohio  river,  and  in  various  directions  across  the  State, 
arousing,  directing  and  utilizing  public  feeling  among  the 
colored  people  for  their  educational  welfare.  At  this  time 
no  public  schools  were  provided  in  Ohio  for  its  colored  citi- 
zens, and  no  public  appropriations  were  made  in  such  be- 
half. The  enterprise  which  Mr.  Langston  represented  was 
one  of  real  necessity,  and  was  so  regarded  and  treated  by 
every  community  to  which  he  presented  it  in  public  ad- 
dress or  private  effort. 

Among  other  places  visited  by  him,  and  in  which  he  pre- 
sented the  claims  and  object  of  this  association,  was  Harveys- 
burg,- already  named,  a  Quaker  village,  where  colored  per- 
sons were  treated  with  great  favor,  and  the  members  of  a 
single  family  among  them,  were  given  superior  advantages 
of  education  and  social  contact.  Here  Mr.  Langston  met 
Miss  Wall  for  the  second  time,  finding  her  family,  consist- 


142       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

ing  of  three  brothers  and  one  sister  besides  herself,  very 
handsomely  located,  very  kindly  treated  by  the  whole  com- 
munity, with  all  the  members  of  it  accorded  every  educa- 
tional and  social  opportunity  possible.  Indeed,  if  distinc- 
tion were  made  at  all  with  respect  to  them  it  was  in  their 
favor.  The  father  of  this  family,  Col.  Stephen  Wall,  a  very 
wealthy  and  influential  citizen  of  Richmond  County,  North 
Carolina,  had  brought  his  children  to  this  liberal  Quaker 
village,  and  having  thus  made  them  all  free,  settled  them 
in  easy,  in  fact  affluent  circumstances,  under  wise  and  suit- 
able guardianship,  for  their  education  and  culture.  So  great 
was  his  constant  interest  in  them,  and  so  ample  the  provi- 
sion which  he  made  in  their  behalf,  and  so  influential  were 
those  to  whom  he  committed  their  business  and  education, 
that  they  were  treated  everywhere,  in  church,  school  and 
the  community,  as  if  they  were  children  of  its  very  best  and 
most  prominent  family. 

Besides  finding  Miss  Wall  a  talented,  refined  and  pleas- 
ant person  in  appearance  and  conduct,  as  he  saw  her  at  her 
own  home,  in  mastery  and  control  of  it,  with  her  brothers 
and  younger  sister  respecting  and  honoring  her  authority, 
while  she  bore  herself  with  dignity,  self-possession  and  pro- 
priety, he  discovered  in  her  those  elements  of  genuine 
womanly  character  which  make  the  constitution  of  the  true, 
loving  and  useful  wife.  He  discovered  too,  in  her  conver- 
sation and  behavior,  that  she  was  fully  informed  as  to  the 
condition  of  the  colored  people,  with  whom  she  was  identi- 
fied in  blood  in  her  maternal  relationships,  and  deeply  and 
intelligently  interested  in  their  education  and  elevation. 
His  subsequent  association  with  her  only  deepened  and 
confirmed  this  opinion,  and  when  the  hour  of  his  proposed 
marriage  came,  he  had  little  to  do  in  the  way  of  convincing 
himself  as  to  the  certainty  of  his  future  happiness,  could  he 
secure  her  affections  and  hand.  His  hopes  and  expecta- 
tions are  still  in  progress  of  happy  fruition. 

Their  wedding  occurred  October  25,  1854,  in  Oberlin,  at 
the  home  of  Deacon  Samuel  Beecher,  where  Miss  Wall  was 
boarding  at  the  time,  while  she  attended  the  ladies'  depart- 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.      143 

ment  of  Oberlin  College,  of  whose  senior  class  she  was  then 
a  member.  Professor  John  Morgan,  their  friend  and 
former  teacher,  by  their  special  desire  and  choice  con- 
ducted the  ceremony  of  their  marriage.  In  closing  the 
service,  he  left  with  the  parties  his  most  earnest,  heartfelt 
benediction,  which  has  ever  lingered  in  their  memories, 
inspiring  and  blessing  their  souls.  Their  wedding-tour 
consisted  of  a  trip  via  Cleveland  to  Cincinnati,  where  they 
remained  for  a  few  days,  as  welcomed  and  entertained  by 
the  family  of  Mr.  William  W.  Watson.  During  their  stay 
in  the  city,  the  respect  and  consideration  shown  them  in 
general  society  were  cordjal  and  agreeable.  Many  enter- 
tainments were  given  them,  and  their  social  recognition  was 
pleasant  and  flattering.  Then  they  visited  Harveysburg, 
where  spending  several  days  in  the  family  of  Mrs.  Dr. 
Scroggs,  a  special  friend  of  Mrs.  Langston,  they  were 
accorded  a  warm-hearted  reception  and  hospitable  treat- 
ment. Thence  they  went  to  their  own  country  home,  to  be 
received  with  every  expression  of  kindly  regard  by  those 
who  proved  to  be  in  every  sense  their  devoted  and  con- 
stant friends. 

As  showing  the  sterling  moral  qualities  of  the  Fairchild 
family,  of  which  mention  has  been  fully  made,  their  deep 
sense  of  justice  and  their  fearlessness  in  the  presence  of 
duty,  it  is  proper  to  relate  here  a  circumstance  in  which  the 
son  Charles  figured  as  the  principal  and  responsible  actor. 
It  was  toward  the  closing  days  of  March,  1855,  when  the 
time  had  come  for  considering  the  matter  of  making  nomi- 
nations for  township  officers,  to  name  candidates  for  the 
trusteeships  and  the  clerkship  for  the  ensuing  year,  that  the 
Liberty  party  men  of  the  town  had  called  their  caucus  and 
public  meeting  for  such  purpose.  Mr.  Langston  had 
already  gained  his  voting  residence,  and  acting  as  he  did 
with  that  party,  he  proposed  to  attend  its  meetings,  espe- 
cially the  caucus  where  the  nominations  would  be  made. 
He  was  on  his  way  there  when  he  and  Mr.  Fairchild,  going 
to  the  same  place,  met  each  other  and  entered  into  a  free 
and  neighborly  conversation.  As  they  nearcd  the  school- 


144       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

house  where  the  meeting  and  caucus  were  held,  Mr.  Fair- 
child  addressing  his  companion,  said,  "Langston,  I  am 
intending  to  nominate  you  to-night  for  our  township 
clerk."  To  this  Mr.  Langston  expressed  objection, 
grounded  upon  fear  that  such  action  would  defeat  their 
ticket.  He  said  to  Mr.  Fairchild,  frankly,  "  My  name,  I 
fear,  would  kill  our  ticket.  We  would  be  beaten  by  more 
than  a  hundred  majority.  We  cannot  afford  to  take  such 
risk.  We  must  nominate  men  whom  we  can  elect.  It  is 
very  material  that  we  win  our  election  this  spring  in  our 
township."  "Very  well,"  said  Mr.  Fairchild;  "but  you 
are  the  best  qualified  man  we  have  in  our  town  for  such  a 
position,"  he  continued,  "and  no  one  can  deny  this.  I 
believe  we  can  elect  you,  and  I  am  going  to  insist  upon 
your  nomination."  The  question  in  Mr.  Langston's  mind 
was  not  one  having  to  do  with  his  qualifications.  In  regard 
to  that  matter  he  was  well  satisfied.  But  no  colored  man, 
up  to  that  time,  had  been  named  for  a  public  office  in  any 
part  of  this  country,  and  he  feared  the  risk  connected  then 
with  the  experiment,  even  in  Brownhelm  Township.  He 
could  not  dissuade  his  friend,  however,  and  when  after  the 
meeting  had  been  organized  and  persons  had  been  named 
as  candidates  for  trusteeships,  Mr.  Fairchild  arose  and  said 
many  good  things  about  Mr.  Langston,  dwelling  specially 
upon  .his  fitness  for  the  clerkship,  making  no  allusion  to  the 
fact  that  he  was  a  colored  person,  and  moved  his  nomina- 
tion as  the  candidate  for  such  office,  his  motion  was 
adopted  without  the  least  opposition.  As  the  candidate 
for  the  position  the  name  of  Mr.  Langston  appeared  upon 
the  Liberty  party  ticket  on  election  day  in  the  early  part 
of  the  following  April.  He  received  not  only  the  full  party 
vote,  but  ran  sixty  votes  ahead  of  his  ticket,  and  he  was 
on  the  evening  of  election  day  declared,  upon  the  count  of 
all  the  votes  cast,  duly  elected  to  the  office  to  which  he 
had  been  nominated.  Thus  through  the  influence  of  the 
Fairchild  family,  and  especially  through  the  wise,  sagacious 
and  fearless  action  of  the  son  named,  the  first  colored  man 
ever  nominated  in  the  United  States  to  an  office,  and  who 


IMPORTANT  EVENTS  AFFECTING  HIS  CAREER.      145 

was  elected  on  a  popular  vote,  had  his  name  brought  for- 
ward and  his  nomination  and  election  generously  and  suc- 
cessfully supported. 

This  election  was  of  great  service  to  Mr.  Langston.  Be- 
sides giving  him,  in  connection  with  his  office,  considerable 
local  prominence  and  some  pay  for  his  services,  it  aided 
him  in  no  small  degree  in  his  law  business.  In  the  first 
place  he  was  ex-officio  the  attorney  of  the  township,  and 
the  public  endorsement  in  this  regard  did,  in  the  second 
place,  enlarge  and  strengthen  his  influence  in  that  capacity 
among  the  people. 

It  was  at  this  juncture  and  on  such  endorsement  by  the 
vote  of  his  white  fellow-citizens,  not  a  colored  man  residing 
in  the  town  other  than  himself,  that  Mr.  Langston's  official 
and  professional  career  really  took  its  upward  positive 
shape  and  character.  As  he  was  the  first  one  of  his  people 
thus  honored  with  responsible  place,  he  was  given  at  once 
thereby  name  and  fame  all  over  the  country,  especially 
among  the  Abolitionists,  who  were  making  every  effort  pos- 
sible to  turn  the  current  of  popular  feeling  in  favor  of  the 
overthrow  of  slavery  and  the  elevation  of  the  enslaved  and 
nominally  free  classes  of  the  country.  So  that  no  sooner 
had  it  become  known  through  the  public  journals  that  he 
had  been  given  place  by  his  election  as  stated,  than  he  was 
invited  by  the  American  Anti-Slavery  Society,'  at  whose 
head  stood  such  men  as  William  Lloyd  Garrison,  Wendell 
Phillips  and  John  G.  Whittier,  to  attend  and  address  their 
forthcoming  May  meeting,  to  be  held  at  Metropolitan 
Theatre,  in  New  York  city.  His  expenses  were  all  to  be 
paid,  and  for  the  first  time  in  his  life  and  experience  he 
was  offered  pay  for  his  services  as  an  orator.  He  was  asked 
to  speak  only  thirty  minutes,  and  for  that  service  he  was 
to  receive  fifty  dollars  in  cash.  The  invitation  was  immedi- 
ately accepted,  and  perhaps  no  great  meeting  of  any 
character  was  ever  attended  in  this  country  by  any  one, 
which  paid  so  largely  in  its  far-reaching  results  as  this  one 
did  the  young  colored  man,  the  recipient  of  such  honorable 
treatment. 


146       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

It  will  not  be  doubted  by  any  reflecting  person  that  his 
marriage,  his  election  to  the  first  office  accorded  to  any 
representative  of  his  race  in  the  United  States,  and  his  in- 
vitation under  the  circumstances  to  address  a  great  audi- 
ence in  a  conspicuous  place  in  New  York  city  in  favor  of 
human  freedom,  with  all  the  prospective  pleasing  results 
attending  such  occurrences,  must  have  exerted  a  potent  di- 
recting influence  upon  one  commencing  his  professional 
and  political  career.  All  these  circumstances  must  have 
been  considered  by  him  as  facts  connected  with  his  life  and 
prospects,  signal,  rare  and  significant  in  the  honors  and 
promise  which  they  brought. 


CHAPTER  XL 

ANNIVERSARY   MEETING,   AMERICAN    ANTI-SLAVERY  SOCI- 
ETY,  MAY,    1855. 

MR.  LANGSTON  constituted  no  exception  to  that  large 
class  of  American  youth  who  had  been  taught  at  school  and 
at  the  hearthstone,  that  Daniel  Webster,  Henry  Clay  and 
John  C.  Calhoun  were  the  great  representative  orators  of 
the  United  States.  He  had  read  their  speeches,  and  many 
times  had  been  lost  in  wonder  and  admiration  of  the  grace, 
eloquence  and  power  of  their  best  utterances.  Especially 
had  this  been  true  of  the  Massachusetts  senator,  who  in  his 
earlier  and  more  palmy  days,  cultivated  in  matchless  dic- 
tion the  broadest  and  most  liberal  sentiments  with  respect 
to  free  principles  and  equal  rights.  He  had  learned  of 
Lord  Chatham,  Lord  Brougham  and  Burke,  and  had  often 
been  inspired  and  delighted  by  their  lofty,  finished,  mas- 
terly periods.  He  had  never  hoped  to  hear  the  equals  of 
these  great  American  and  British  orators.  They  were  to 
him  as  to  the  youth  generally  of  his  age,  ideal  characters. 
But  as  he  confronted  in  real  presence,  heard,  felt,  and  was 
moved  by  the  words  of  the  earnest,  brave,  inspired  men  and 
women  who  were  pleading  the  cause  of  humanity  and  free- 
dom— the  cause  even  of  the  poor,  outraged  and  degraded 
slave — in  truth,  pathos  and  power,  his  conception  of  oratory 
as  modelled  after  the  standards  named  seemed  low  and 
unworthy.  These  latter  made  the  speeches  which  realized 
at  last  the  highest,  truest  and  noblest  image  of  eloquence 

147 


148       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

dedicated  to  a  holy,  sacred  purpose,  when  speech  alone 
demonstrates  the  height  and  depth,  the  power  and  effect 
of  which  in  its  best  estate  it  is  capable.  When  man  pleads 
the  cause  of  justice,  liberty,  humanity,  with  his  heart  ear- 
nestly, sincerely,  deeply  imbued  with  the  conviction  of  his 
duty,  his  soul  pure  in  its  consecration  thereto,  and  his 
understanding  illuminated  by  the  light  which  is  divine,  he 
is  eloquent.  So  it  was  at  this  great  meeting  where  thou- 
sands spell-bound  were  touched  and  aroused  by  the  "  words 
which  burned  and  the  thoughts  which  breathed,"  as  they 
came  poured  from  the  devoted  hearts  and  lips  of  the  men 
and  women  called  to  demand  as  matter  of  justice  to  the  slave, 
the  immediate  and  unconditional  abolition  of  his  thraldom. 

Here  it  was  learned  in  real  life  and  practice  that  elo- 
quence, the  mysterious  influence  which  convicts,  persuades 
and  captivates  the  human  understanding  and  sensibility, 
consists  in  the  sentiment,  the  truth  of  one's  utterance,  and 
not  in  mere  diction,  gesticulation,  movement,  smile  or 
frown,  even  where  accompanied  by  finished  and  effective 
rhetoric.  Here  the  living  orators,. those  upon  whom  the 
God  of  Freedom  had  breathed  his  divine  afflatus,  as  upon 
John  or  Paul,  spoke  even  for  the  slave,  and  the  world  was 
compelled  to  feel  and  acknowledge  their  power !  Their  elo- 
quence came  not  of  words  or  manner.  It  was  the  power 
made  mighty  through  the  truth,  which  coming  from  their 
pure,  sincere  hearts,  carried  in  conviction  and  charm  the 
judgment  and  consciences  of  their  hearers. 

The  great  orators  of  anti-slavery  fame  and  influence  who 
honored  this  anniversary  occasion  by  their  presence  and 
addresses  were  William  Lloyd  Garrison,  Wendell  Phillips, 
Theodore  Parker,  Antoinette  Brown,  Henry  Wilson  and 
Charles  Sumner,  all  of 'whom  took  part  in  the  exercises 
connected  with  its  celebration.  To  say  that  the  speeches 
of  such  orators  were  master  productions  worthy  of  the 
cause  which  their  authors  plead  and  of  the  occasion  is  to 
use  language  wholly  inadequate  to  their  proper  description. 
The  addresses  of  Senators  Wilson  and  Sumner,  one  deliv- 
ered on  the  preceding  and  the  other  on  the  evening  of  the 


AMERICAN  ANTI-SLAVERY  SOCIETY.  149 

anniversary,  were  marvelous  in  their  conception,  power  and 
effect.  They  spoke  indeed  as  moved  by  the  holy  spirit  of 
liberty  itself.  Perhaps  Senator  Sumner  never  reached  such 
moral  sublimity  and  displayed  such  surprising,  matchless 
power  as  on  this  occasion.  And  even  Wendell  Phillips, 
with  all  the  sweetness  and  charm  of  his  oratory,  was  too 
wise,  when  called  by  the  great  audience  to  follow  him  in  a 
brief  impromptu  address,  to  undertake  the  task,  but  said 
to  those  who  called  him,  "  I  know  this  vast  audience  is 
composed  of  my  friends.  And  since  that  is  so,  I  feel  that 
you  will  not  attempt  to  persuade  me  to.  open  my  mouth  in 
this  presence  after  the  matchless  utterance  of  our  distin- 
guished friend,  the  senator  ! ''  Senator  Sumner  had  selected 
as  the  subject  of  his  address,  "  The  importance,  the  neces- 
sity and  the  dignity  of  the  American  anti-slavery  move- 
ment." He  was  the  complete  master  of  this  theme  in 
thought  and  reading,  and  observation  made  at  home  and 
abroad.  He  had  been  engaged  for  several  weeks  in  deliv- 
ering this  speech  in  different  parts  of  New  England,  and 
came  to  New  York  city  in  perfect  condition  of  body  and 
mind  to  make  the  crowning  effort  of  his  life.  The  occasion 
was  all  he  could  ask,  his  audience  could  not  have  been  sur- 
passed in  numbers,  sympathy  and  enthusiasm,  and  thus 
moved,  as  well  by  his  surroundings  as  the  deep  love  of  the 
cause  in  whose  name  and  behalf  he  spoke,  he  displayed  the 
grandest,  the  most  wonderful  power.  No  one  who  saw  and 
heard  him  shall  ever  forget  his  presence  and  bearing,  his 
look  and  manner,  his  action,  the  intonation  of  his  voice, 
his  gesticulation,  the  warmth  and  splendor  of  his  utterance 
and  power,  and  last  and  grandest  of  all,  the  closing  pro- 
phetic declaration  in  which,  his  whole  soul  with  all  its  faith 
and  power  displayed,  and  every  nerve  and  muscle  of  his 
body  instinct  with  the  life  and  spirit  that  moved  him,  he 
stirred  and  thrilled  to  its  very  depths  the  audience  in  his 
words,  "that  the  Slave  Oligarchy  shall  die!"  In  this  sen- 
timent of  good  promise  he  carried  every  hearer  in  his  vast 
audience  in  wild  irresistible  admiration  and  applause  of  his 
eloquence. 


150       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

It  is  perhaps  true  that  up  to  this  time  no  such  anti- 
slavery  meeting  had  been  held  in  the  United  States,  one 
which  had  brought  together  so  many  distinguished  persons, 
on  such  an  important  and  conspicuous  occasion,  and  one  at 
which  such  utterances,  so  impressive  and  commanding,  had 
been  made  in  the  interest  of  the  American  slave.  The 
whole  city  of  New  York  was  now  moved,  and  through  the 
press  of  that  city  the  whole  country  was  reached  and  af- 
fected by  the  addresses  made  there  in  a  manner  entirely 
satisfactory  to  the  promoters  and  friends  of  abolition.  Now 
the  anti-slavery  cause  appeared  to  gain  new  life  and  hope, 
while  the  rank  and  file  of  the  abolition  party  found  in  its 
leaders  a  more  positive  and  bold  assertion  of  its  purposes 
and  principles. 

Mr.  Langston  spoke  on  "  anniversary  day "  proper,  with 
Messrs.  Garrison,  Parker,  Phillips  and  Miss  Brown.  His 
speech  was  novel  its  general  features,  and  was  received  with 
flattering  favor  by  the  audience  and  the  public.  It  was  de- 
livered under  such  favorable  circumstances,  upon  a  plat- 
form so  burdened  and  distinguished  by  the  presence  of  the 
first  thinkers,  scholars,  divines,  statesmen,  orators  and  anti- 
slavery  worthies,  as  Henry  Ward  Beecher,  Dr.  E.  H.  Chapin, 
Dr.  C.  H.  Cheever,  James  Mott,  Lucretia  Mott,  Lucy  Stone, 
Gerrit  Smith,  Henry  H.  Garnet,  William  W.  Brown,  Stephen 
Foster,  Abby  Kelly  Foster,  Henry  B.  Stanton,  Charles  L. 
Remond,  Robert  Purvis,  Dr.  James  McCune  Smith,  before 
an  audience  of  such  size  and  character,  that  it  produced  ef- 
fects which  were  highly  advantageous,  personally,  to  Mr. 
Langston,  and  as  its  friends  claimed,  of  great  service  to  the 
anti-slavery  cause  in  the  United  States.  As  delivered  it  ap- 
peared in  the  New  York  dailies  in  full  on  the  following 
morning  thereafter,  and  was  reproduced  in  the  anti-slavery 
journals  and  periodicals  of  the  day.  Slavery  has  been 
abolished,  but  as  showing  the  line  of  thought  and  predic- 
tion adopted  by  the  speaker,  young  and  inexperienced  as 
he  was,  it  is  here  presented,  as  found  in  the  annual  report 
of  the  society  for  1855. 


AMERICAN  ANTI-SLAVERY  SOCIETY.  151 

The  twenty-second  anniversary  of  the  American  Anti-Slavery  Society  wa* 
celebrated  May  9,  1855,  at  Metropolitan  Theater,  New  York  city.  William 
Lloyd  Garrison,  the  president  of  the  society,  presided.  He  introduced  Mr. 
John  Mercer  Langston  as  a  graduate  of  Oberlin  College,  a  colored  lawyer  who 
had  recently  been  elected  town  clerk  of  Brownhelm  Township,  Ohio,  who 
would  address  the  meeting. 

MR.  LANGSTON'S  SPEECH. 

MR.  PRESIDENT,  LADIES  AND  GENTLEMEN: 

Some  great  man  has  remarked  that  a  nation  may  lose  its  liberty  in  a 
day,  and  be  a  century  in  finding  it  out.  Does  our  own  nation  afford  illustration 
of  this  statement  ?  There  is  not,  within  the  length  and  breadth  of  this  entire 
country,  from  Maine  to  Georgia,  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific  Oceans,  a  soli- 
tary man  or  woman  who  is  in  the  possession  of  his  or  her  full  share  of  civil, 
religious  and  political  liberty.  This  is  a  startling  announcement  perhaps, 
made  in  the  heart  and  center  of  a  country  loud  in  its  boasts  of  its  free  institu- 
tions, its  democratic  organizations,  its  equality,  its  justice  and  its  liberality. 
We  have  been  in  the  habit  of  boasting  of  our  Declaration  of  Independence,  of 
our  Federal  Constitution,  of  the  Ordinance  of  1787,  and  various  enactments  in 
favor  of  popular  liberty  for  so  long,  that  we  verily  believe  that  we  are  a  free 
people ;  and  yet  I  am  forced  to  declare,  looking  the  truth  directly  in  the  face 
and  seeing  the  power  of  American  slavery,  that  there  is  not  within  the  bosom 
of  this  entire  country,  a  solitary  man  or  woman  who  can  say  "  I  have  my  full 
share  of  liberty."  Let  the  president  of  this  society  clothe  himself  with  the  pan- 
oply of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States,  the  Declaration  of  Independence 
and  the  Word  of  God,  and  stand  up  in  the  presence  of  the  people  of  South 
Carolina  and  say,  "  I  believe  in  the  sentiments  contained  in  the  Constitution  of 
my  country,  in  the  Declaration  of  Independence  and  in  the  Word  of  God,  re- 
specting the  rights  of  man,"  and  where  will  be  his  legal  protection  ?  Massachu- 
setts will  sit  quietly  by  and  see  him  outraged ;  the  president  of  the  United 
States  will  not  dare  to  interfere  for  his  protection ;  he  will  be  at  the  mercy  of 
the  tyrant  slaveholders.  Why?  Because  slavery  is  the  great  lord  of  this 
country,  and  there  is  no  power  in  this  nation  to-day  strong  enough  to  withstand 
it. 

It  would  afford  me  great  pleasure,  Mr.  President,  to  dwell  upon  the  achieve- 
ments already  gained  by  the  anti-slavery  movement.  I  know  that  they  have 
been  great  and  glorious  ;  I  know  that  this  movement  has  taught  the  American 
people  who  the  slave  is,  and  what  his  rights  are — that  he  is  a  man  and  entitled 
to  all  the  rights  of  a  man ;  I  know  that  the  attention  of  the  public  has  been 
called  to  the  consideration  of  the  colored  people,  and  the  attention  of  the  col- 
ored people  themselves  has  been  awakened  to  their  own  condition,  so  that  with 
longing  expectations  they  begin  to  say  in  the  language  of  the  poet : — 

"  O  tell  me  not  that  I  am  blessed, 
Nor  bid  me  glory  in  my  lot, 
That  plebeian  freemen  are  oppressed 
With  wants  and  woes  that  you  are  not. 
Go  let  a  cage,  with  grates  of  gold, 
And  pearly  roof,  the  eagle  hold  ; 


152       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Let  dainty  viands  be  his  fare, 

And  give  the  captive  tend'rest  care  ; 

But  say,  in  luxury's  limits  pent, 

Find  you  the  king  of  birds  content  ? 

No;  oft  he'll  sound  the  startling  shriek, 

And  dash  those  grates  with  angry  beak. 

Precarious  freedom's  far  more  dear 

Than  all  the  prison's  pampering  cheer ; 

He  longs  to  seek  his  eyrie  seat — 

Some  cliff  on  Ocean's  lonely  shore, 

Whose  old  bare  top  the  tempests  beat, 

And  round  whose  base  the  billows  roar  ; 

When,  dashed  by  gales,  they  yawn  like  graves. 

He  longs  for  joy  to  skim  those  waves, 

Or  rise  through  tempest-shrouded  air 

All  thick  and  dark  with  wild  winds  swelling, 

To  brave  the  lightning's  lurid  glare, 

And  talk  with  thunders  in  their  dwelling." 

As  the  mountain  eagle  hates  the  cage  ;  loathes  confinement  and  longs  to  be 
free ;  so  the  colored  man  hates  chains,  loathes  his  enslavement  and  longs  to 
shoulder  the  responsibilities  of  dignified  life.  He  longs  to  stand  in  the  Church, 
in  the  State,  a  man  ;  he  longs  to  stand  up  a  man  upon  the  great  theater  of  exist- 
ence, everywhere  a  man  ;  for  verily  he  is  a  man,  and  may  well  adopt  the  sen- 
timent of  the  Roman  Terrence  when  he  said,  "Homo  sum,  atque  nihil  fiumani  a 
me  alienum  puto  " — I  am  a  man,  and  there  is  nothing  of  humanity  as  I  think,  es- 
tranged to  me  !  Yes,  the  anti-slavery  movement  has  done  this — and  it  has  done 
more.  It  has  revolutionized  to  a  great  degree,  the  theology  and  religion  of 
this  country.  It  has  taught  the  American  people  that  the  Bible  is  not  on  the 
side  of  American  slavery.  No,  it  cannot  be.  It  was  written  in  characters  of 
light  across  the  gateway  of  the  old  Mosaic  system,  "  He  that  stealeth  a  man 
and  selleth  him,  or  if  he  be  found  in  his  hand,  he  shall  surely  be  put  to  death." 
That  is  the  only  place  in  the  Scriptures  where  the  matter  of  chattel  slavery  is 
mentioned,  and  the  declaration  of  the  Almighty  through  Moses  is  :  "  He  that 
stealeth  a  man  and  selleth  him,  or  if  he  be  found  in  his  hand,  he  shall  surely 
be  put  to  death." 

Theodore  D.  Weld  was  right  when  he  said — "  The  spirit  of  slavery  never 
takes  refuge  in  the  Bible  of  its  own  accord.  The  horns  of  the  altar  are  its  last 
resort.  It  seizes  them  if  at  all,  only  in  desperation,  rushing  from  the  terror  of 
the  avenger's  arm.  Like  other  unclean  spirits  it  hateth  the  light,  neither  com- 
eth  to  the  light  lest  its  deeds  should  be  reproved.  Goaded  to  madness  in  its  con- 
flicts with  common  sense  and  natural  justice,  denied  all  quarter  and  hunted  from 
every  covert,  it  breaks  at  last  into  the  sacred  enclosure  and  courses  up  and 
down  the  Bible,  seeking  rest  and  finding  none.  The  Law  of  Love  streaming 
from  every  page,  flashes  around  it  an  omnipresent  anguish  and  despair.  It 
shrinks  from  the  hated  light,  and  howls  under  the  consuming  touch,  as  the  de- 
moniacs recoiled  from  the  Son  of  God  and  shrieked,  "Torment  us  not."  At 
last  it  slinks  away  among  the  shadows  of  the  Mosaic  system,  and  thinks  to  bur- 
row out  of  sight  among  its  types  and  symbols.  Vain  is  its  hope!  Its  asylum 


AMERICAN  ANTI-SLAVERY  SOCIETY.  153 

]'•;  its  sepulcher,  its  city  of  refuge,  the  city  of  destruction.  It  rushes  from  light 
into  the  sun  ;  from  heat  into  devouring  flame ;  and  from  the  voice  of  God  into 
the  thickest  ot  His  thunders." 

Yes,  the  anti-slavery  movement  has  taught  the  American  people  this,  and 
more  than  this.  It  has  taught  them  that  no  political  party  established  on  the 
basis  of  ignoring  the  question  of  slavery,  can  live  and  breathe  in  the  North. 
Where  is  the  Whig  party  ? 

"  Gone  glimmering  through  the  dream  of  things  that  were, 
A  school-boy's  tale,  the  wonder  of  an  hour !  " 

The  anti-slavery  movement  has  dug  its  grave  deep;  it  has  buried  it  and  is 
writing  for  its  epitaph,  "  It  was,  but  is  no  more."  With  Daniel  Webster  the 
Whig  party  breathed  its  last  breath. 

And  where  is  the  Democratic  party  ?  It  is  in  power,  but  all  over  it  is  writ- 
ten— Mene,  mene,  tekel  upharsin.  Weighed  in  the  balances  and  found  wanting ! 

I  would  like  to  dwell  on  these  results  of  the  anti-slavery  movement,  but  I 
want  to  make  good  before  this  audience  my  proposition,  that  there  is  not  within 
the  length  and  breadth  of  this  land,  a  solitary  freeman.  The  American  peo- 
ple may  be  divided  into  four  classes;  the  slaves,  the  slaveholders  and  the  non- 
slaveholding  whites,  and  the  free  people  of  color. 

I  need  not  undertake  to  show  to  this  audience  that  the  American  slave  is  de- 
prived of  his  rights.  He  has  none.  He  has  a  body,  but  it  is  not  his  own ;  he 
has  an  intellect,  but  he  cannot  think  for  himself ;  he  has  sensibility,  but  he 
must  feel  for  another.  He  can  own  nothing,  all  belongs  to  his  master. 

Then  as  to  the  slaveholder  himself,  we  have  all  come  to  think  that  he  has 
all  rights  ;  that  he  is  wholly  independent,  in  no  wise  the  subject  of  regulation 
made  even  in  the  interest  of  slavery  itself .  Not  so;  for  a  slaveholder  cannot  sit 
on  the  bench  or  stand  at  the  bar,  in  the  forum  or  in  the  pulpit,  and  utter  a  sol- 
itary sentiment  that  could  be  construed  as  tending  to  create  insubordination 
among  the  free  people  of  color  and  insurrection  among  the  slaves.  Look  at 
the  press  in  the  Southern  States  ;  it  is  muzzled  and  dare  not  speak  out  a  senti- 
ment in  favor  of  freedom.  Let  but  a  sentiment  tending  toward  abolition  es- 
cape and  what  is  the  consequence  ?  Behold  the  Parkville  Luminary,  broken 
to  atoms,  and  the  people  of  that  portion  of  Missouri  avowing  that  that  paper 
never  uttered  their  sentiments  or  represented  their  views,  and  giving  thanks  to 
God  Almighty  that  they  have  had  the  mob  spirit  strong  enough  to  destroy  that 
press.  Is  not  this  evidence  sufficient  to  show  that  even  slaveholders  them- 
selves, are  not  in  posession  of  their  full  share  of  civil,  religious  and  political 
liberty?  If  not,  consult  the  statute  books  of  Louisiana  and  other  southern  and 
slaveholding  States,  burdened  with  acts  forbidding  the  expression  of  any  senti- 
ment or  opinion,  tending  to  the  disturbance  of  their  slaves  and  slaveholding 
interests. 

As  to  the  great  mass  of  the  white  people  at  the  North,  have  they  their  rights  ? 
I  recollect,  when  the  anti-slavery  people  held  a  convention  at  Cleveland,  in 
1850,  the  question  came  up  whether  they  should  hold  their  next  national  con- 
vention in  the  city  of  Waehington.  The  strong  political  anti-slavery  men  of 
the  country  were  there.  Inhere  were  present,  Chase  and  Lewis  of  Ohio ;  Cas- 
sius  M.  Clay  of  Kentucky;  Lewis  Tappan  of  New  York,  and  a  great  many 


154       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

other  strong  men  of  the  party,  and  yet  when  this  question  came  up,  how  was  it 
decided?  Slavery  existed  in  the  District  of  Columbia!  And  the  convention 
voted  that  they  would  not  hold  the  next  national  meeting  at  Washington.  And 
what  was  the  reason  given  ?  Because  the  people  of  that  city  might  use  vio- 
lence !  Had  the  people  their  full  share  of  liberty,  would  they  have  been  afraid 
to  go  to  the  capital  of  the  country,  and  there  utter  their  sentiments  on  the 
subject  of  slavery  or  any  other  topic  ? 

But  to  make  the  fact  more  apparent,  some  two  years  afterwards,  the  great 
National  Woman's  Rights  Convention  was  held  in  the  same  city;  and  there  the 
very  same  question  came  up,  whether  they  should  hold  their  next  meeting  at 
Washington  or  Pittsburg.  How  was  it  decided  ?  As  the  question  was  about 
being  put,  Lucy  Stone  came  forward  and  said,  "  I  am  opposed  to  going  to  the 
city  of  Washington.  They  buy  and  sell  women  there,  and  they  might  outrage 
us."  So  the  convention  voted  to  hold  the  next  meeting  at  Pittsburg.  Were 
they  in  the  possession  of  their  full  share  of  liberty  ?  Think  of  it ;  our  mothers, 
our  wives  and  our  sisters  of  the  North,  dare  not  go  to  the  capital  of  the  coun- 
try, to  hold  a  meeting  to  discuss  the  question  of  the  rights  of  their  own  sex. 
And  yet  the  Constitution  declares  that  the  "citizens  of  each  State  shall  be 
entitled  to  all  the  rights  and  immunities  of  citizens  in  the  several  States." 

I  now  wish  to  speak  of  another  class,  and  more  at  length — of  that  class 
which  I  have  the  honor  to  represent — the  free  people  of  color.  What  is  our 
condition  in  respect  to  civil,  religious  and  political  liberty?  In  the  State  in 
which  I  live,  (Ohio),  they  do  not  enjoy  the  elective  franchise,  and  why  ?  It  is 
owing  to  the  indirect  influence  of  American  slavery.  Slavery  in  Kentucky,  the 
adjoining  State,  says  to  the  people  of  Ohio,  you  must  not  allow  colored  people 
to  vote  and  be  elected  to  office,  because  our  slaves  will  hear  of  it  and  become 
restless,  and  directly  we  shall  have  an  insurrection  and  our  throats  will  be  cut. 
And  so  the  people  of  Ohio  say  to  the  colored  people,  that  they  cannot  allow 
them  the  privilege  of  voting,  notwithstanding  the  colored  people  pay  taxes 
like  others,  and  in  the  face  of  the  acknowledged  principle  that  taxation  and 
representation  should  always  go  together.  And  I  understand  that  in  the  State 
of  New  York,  the  colored  man  is  only  allowed  the  elective  franchise  through  a 
property  qualification,  which  amounts  to  nothing  short  of  an  insult;  for  it  is 
not  the  colored  man  that  votes,  but  the  two  hundred  and  fifty  dollars  that  he 
may  possess.  It  is  not  his  manhood  but  his  money  that  is  represented.  But 
that  is  the  Yankee  idea — the  dollar  and  the  cent !  In  the  State  of  Ohio,  the 
colored  man  has  not  the  privilege  of  sending  his  child  to  the  ordinary  common 
schools,  certainly  not  to  those  provided  for  white  scholars.  Nor  is  he  placed, 
even  in  the  penitentiary  on  a  fair  equal  footing.  If  a  colored  man  knocks  a 
white  man  down,  perhaps  in  defence  of  his  rights,  he  is  sent  to  the  penitenti- 
ary ;  and  when  he  gets  there,  there  is  no  discrimination  made  between  him  and 
the  worst  white  criminal ;  but  when  he  marches  out  to  take  his  meal,  he  is 
made  to  march  behind  the  white  criminal,  and  you  may  see  the  prisoners 
marching,  horse  thieves  in  front,  colored  people  behind. 

All  the  prejudice  against  color  that  you  see  in  the  United  States  is  the  fruit 
of  slavery,  and  is  a  most  effectual  barrier  to  the  exercise  and  enjoyment  of  the 
rights  of  the  colored  man.  In  the  State  of  Illinois,  they  have  a  law  something 
like  this:  that  if  any  colored  man  comes  there  with  the  intent  to  make  it  his 


AMERICAN  ANTI-SLAVERY  SOCIETY.  155 

residence,  he  shall  be  taken  up  and  fined  ten  dollars  for  the  first  offence ;  and  if 
he  is  unable  to  pay  for  it,  he  is  put  up  and  sold,  and  the  proceeds  of  the  sale 
are  to  go,  first  towards  paying  the  costs  that  may  accrue  in  the  case,  and  the 
residue  towards  the  support  and  maintenance  of  a  charity  fund  for  the  benefit 
of  the  poor  whites  of  that  State.  That  is  a  part  of  the  legislation  of  the  State 
that  Stephen  A.  Douglas  has  the  honor  to  represent.  The  public  sentiment 
that  is  growing  up  in  this  country,  however,  will  soon,  I  hope,  be  the  death  of 
Douglas,  and  of  that  sort  of  legislation. 

In  the  light,  therefore,  of  all  the  facts,  can  there  be  any  question  that  there  is 
no  full  enjoyment  of  freedom  to  anyone  in  this  country  ?  Could  John  Quincy 
Adams  come  forth  from  his  mausoleum,  shrouded  in  his  grave  clothes,  and  in 
the  name  of  the  sovereignty  of  Massachusetts  stand  up  in  Charleston  and 
protest  against  the  imprisonment  of  the  citizens  of  Massachusetts  as  a  viola- 
tion of  their  constitutional  rights,  do  you  think  the  people  of  South  Carolina 
would  submit  to  it?  Do  you  think  the  reverence  due  to  his  name  and  charac- 
ter, or  even  the  habiliments  of  the  grave  about  him,  would  protect  him  from 
insult  and  outrage  ?  So  far  are  the  people  of  this  country  lost  to  all  sense  of 
shame,  that  many  would  laugh  at  such  an  outrage. 

American  slavery  has  corrupted  the  whole  mass  of  American  society.  Its 
influence  has  pervaded  every  crevice  and  cranny  of  it.  But,  Mr.  President,  I  am 
glad  to  know  that  a  great  change  is  coming  on,  and  that  the  American  ^people 
are  beginning  to  feel  that  the  question  of  slavery  is  not  one  which  affects  the 
colored  people  alone.  I  am  glad  to  know  that  they  are  beginning  to  feel  that 
it  is  a  National  question,  in  which  every  man  and  woman  is  more  or  less 
interested.  And  when  the  people  of  the  North  shall  rise  and  put  on  their 
strength,  powerful  though  slavery  is  and  well-nigh  omnipotent,  it  shall  die  ! 
It  is  only  for  the  people  to  will  it,  and  it  is  done.  But  while  the  Church  and 
the  political  parties  continue  to  sustain  it ;  while  the  people  bow  down  at  its 
bloody  feet  to  worship  it,  it  will  live  and  breathe,  active  and  invincible.  Now 
the  question  comes  home  to  us,  and  it  is  a  practical  question,  in  the  language  of 
Mr.  Phillips,  "  Shall  liberty  die  in  this  country  ?  Has  God  Almighty 
scooped  out  the  Mississippi  Valley  for  its  grave  ?  Has  He  lifted  up  the  Rocky 
Mountains  for  its  monument  ?  Has  He  set  Niagara  to  hymn  its  requiem  ?  " 
Sir,  I  hope  not.  I  hope  that  the  Mississippi  Valley  is  to  be  its  cradle  ;  that 
the  Rocky  Mountains  are  to  be  the  stony  tablets  upon  which  shall  be  written 
its  glorious  triumphs ;  and  that  Niagara  has  been  set  not  to  hymn  the  death 
dirge  but  the  triumphal  song  of  our  freedom  !  But,  my  friends,  the  question  is 
with  us,  shall  the  Declaration  of  American  Independence  stand  ?  Shall  the 
Constitution  of  the  United  States,  if  it  is  anti-slavery,  stand  ?  Shall  our  free 
institutions  triumph,  and  our  country  become  the  asylum  of  the  oppressed 
of  all  climes?  Shall  our  government  become,  in  the  language  of  Ex-Senator 
Allen,  "  a  democracy  which  asks  nothing  but  what  it  concedes,  and  concedes 
nothing  but  what  it  demands,  destructive  of  despotism,  it  is  the  sole  conserva- 
tor of  Liberty,  Labor  and  Property  ?  "  May  God  help  the  right  I 


CHAPTER  XII. 

HIS   PRACTICE   AND  SUCCESS  AS   THE  COLORED  LAWYER  OF 
OHIO. 

MR.  AND  MRS.  LANGSTON  spent  the  first  two  years  after 
their  marriage  upon  their  farm  in  Brownhelm,  Ohio.  Their 
first  child,  a  son,  was  born  on  the  3rd  day  of  August,  1855. 
It  was  was  the  first  child  of  its  nationality  and  complexion, 
as  already  intimated,  born  in  that  place.  During  all  this 
time  Mr.  Langston  gave  his  constant  undivided  attention  to 
his  law  practice,  doing  business  in  his  own  and  adjoining 
counties. 

During  her  confinement  Mrs.  Langston  found  in  Mrs. 
Colonel  Frank  Peck  an  earnest  and  constant  companion  and 
friend.  This  good  woman  could  not  have  given  greater  at- 
tention and  care  to  her  own  daughter.  The  new-born  babe, 
through  the  enthusiastic  accounts  given  of  it  by  this  kind 
neighbor  and  motherly  person  and  other  members  of  her 
family,  excited  no  small  interest  in  the  community  and  at- 
tracted a  large  measure  of  general  attention. 

He  was  not  many  days  old  when  the  happy  parents  and  their 
friends  discussed  the  matter  of  naming  him.  His  mother, 
though  proud  enough  of  him — large,  well-developed,  inter- 
esting and  promising  as  he  was — was  quite  willing  to  let  his 
father  name  him  according  to  his  own  judgment  and  pleasure. 
Not  feeling  quite  equal  to  the  task,  grave  and  important  as  it 
seemed  to  him,  the  father  accepted  the  assistance  of  his 
brother  Charles,  who  happened  to  be  with  him  at  the  time 
156 


SUCCESSFUL  LAW  PRACTICE  IN  OHIO.  157 

and  who  discovered  not  a  little  interest  in  the  child  as  he 
bore  special  affection  for  both  the  parents,  and  would  have 
him  bear  such  name  as  might  promise,  in  happy  augury,  good 
to  him.  In  order  that  there  might  be  no  risk  or  mishap 
just  here  a  name  was  finally  agreed  upon  which  represented 
the  two  extremes  in  human  character.  And  hence  the  boy 
was  at  last  given  two  names.  The  first,  as  suggested  by  the 
father,  was  one  in  honor  of  perhaps  the  most  indifferent  and 
on  the  whole  worthless  negro  man  that  he  had  ever  known, 
and  yet  one  whom  he  greatly  liked  and  with  whom  he  had 
passed  many  pleasant  idle  moments.  While  this  man  was 
worthless  in  every  exalted  important  sense,  he  had  not  a 
single  bad  habit  except  the  one  of  doing  nothing,  which 
seemed  to  result  not  so  much  from  faulty  disposition  as  a 
constitutional  want  of  energy.  The  boy  was  named  by  the 
father  in  this  respect  on  the  principle  that  the  more  worth- 
less the  person  whose  name  is  taken,  the  more  certain  the 
one  to  whom  it  is  given  might  by  another  turn  of  dispositipn 
and  life  make  it  typical  of  high  resolve  and  important  if  not 
splendid  achievement.  The  uncle  took  the  opposite  view, 
and  in  offering  his  suggestions  as  to  the  second  name  for  the 
child,  brought  forward  that  of  the  grandest  man  as  he 
claimed  who  had  ever  been  known  among  negroes  on  this 
continent.  As  he  pronounced  his  choice  his  prayer  was  that 
his  nephew  might  become  half  so  great  and  noted  as  the  one 
after  whom  he  would  have  him  called.  All  agreed  that  the 
babe  should  be  named  Arthur  in  honor  of  the  indifferent 
Virginia  negro,  once  his  grandfather's  slave,  and  Dessalines, 
in  honor  of  the  great  Haytian  hero.  Accordingly  the  first- 
born boy  of  the  young  parents  bears  the  name  of  Arthur 
Dessalines  Langston. 

Pressed  by  professional  engagements  and  duties,  Mr. 
Langston  deemed  it  advantageous  to  leave  his  farm  and 
settle  where  he  might  enjoy  larger  opportunity  for  the  culti- 
vation of  the  practice  of  the  law.  Having  disposed  of  his 
Brownhelm  property,  real  and  personal,  he  decided  to  locate 
with  his  family  in  Oberlin.  In  the  spring  of  1856  he  left 
Browhelm  and  took  up  his  residence  in  the  neigboring  town 


158       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

named.  Though  the  roads  at  the  time  were  in  the  worst 
condition  possible,  the  morning  of  the  departure  from  the 
farm  was  sunny  and  cheerful.  The  beautiful  pair  of  chest- 
nut sorrel  horses  which  had  been  brought  by  him  upon  the 
Brownhelm  farm  and  used  especially  for  his  own  driving, 
had  not  been  disposed  of,  and  were  now  to  be  hitched  to  a 
two-horse  wagon  for  bearing  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Langston  to  their 
new  home,  which  had  been  purchased  in  the  most  desirable 
part  of  the  village  of  Oberlin.  The  team  had  traversed  the 
nine  miles'  ride  a  thousand  times,  but  never  apparently  with 
so  much  ease  and  proudly  as  driven  by  their  owner  now, 
with  the  wagon  bearing  not  only  wife  and  child  but  house- 
hold goods  and  products,  apples,  potatoes,  turnips  and 
meats  necessary  for  a  new  commencement  in  a  new  house 
and  upon  new  premises.  Two  hours  only  were  required 
after  leaving  Brownhelm  to  bring  him  with  his  family  team 
and  load  to  the  house  and  premises  which  were  to  be  occu- 
pied as  indicated  for  the  next  fifteen  years.  The  horses 
were  just  turning  their  heads  in  seeming  intelligence  and 
apparent  joy  from  a  cross  street  through  which  they  had 
been  driven  into  East  College,  near  the  Langston  home, 
when  a  resident  of  this  neighborhood,  a  white  man  of  ex- 
tremely doubtful  Republican  feelings  and  principles,  always 
officious  and  meddlesome,  addressing  Mr.  Langston,  pro- 
pounded the  following  interesting  but  vexatious  questions, 
"Are  you  coming  to  live  among  us  aristocrats?  Do  you 
think  you  can  maintain  yourself  among  us?"  Liberally 
and  fairly  interpreted  these  inquiries  were  intended  to  ad- 
monish these  colored  new-comers,  the  first  of  their  class  who 
had  undertaken  to  purchase  and  locate  a  home  in  that  partic- 
ular section  of  the  most  noted  Abolition  town  in  America, 
that  it  would  be  necessary  for  them,  according  to  this  man's 
conception  of  their  condition  as  to  general  society,  to  under- 
stand that  they  would  find  the  usual  social  barriers  erected 
against  their  advancement  even  there. 

Mr.  Langston  was  too  buoyant  and  happy,  to  say  nothing 
about  his  good  breeding,  to  be  in  his  replies  to  such  un- 
provoked and  unsolicited  interference  or  gratuitous  inter- 


SUCCESSFUL  LAW  PRACTICE  IN  OHIO.  159 

meddling,  ungenteel,  vulgar  or  blasphemous.  He  simply 
heard  ;  made  no  reply  other  than,  "  We  shall  see,"  and 
drove  on.  The  happiness  and  the  hopes  of  this  young 
family  were  greatly  stimulated  and  confirmed  by  the  re- 
markable attentions  and  hospitable  proffers  made  them  by 
their  nearest  neighbors  immediately  on  their  arrival.  The 
house  was  without  occupant  and  since  its  completion  had 
not  been  tenanted  or  heated.  It  had  simply  been  cleaned 
and  aired,  with  such  arrangements  made  for  warming  it  and 
occupation  in  part,  as  to  make  it  convenient  and  comfort- 
able with  the  least  amount  of  effort  for  the  small  family 
now  taking  possession.  On  their  arrival  the  neighbors  re- 
ferred to,  witnessing  the  condition  of  Mrs.  Langston  and 
her  babe,  came  quickly  to  her  relief,  insisting  that  she 
should  consent  without  the  least  hesitation  to  their  enter- 
tainment of  her  until  her  husband  could  make  the  hurried 
necessary  arrangements  for  her  comfort  at  home.  Re- 
ceived thus  by  the  excellent  leading  people  of  the  neighbor- 
hood, this  family  spent  the  time  of  their  residence  there  in 
happy  and  constant  accord,  good  understanding  and  cordial 
neighborly  treatment. 

This  new  home  was  composed  of  ample  grounds,  elevated 
and  beautiful ;  the  house  was  of  modern  construction,  com- 
modious and  convenient,  with  every  recent  improvement  of 
cellar,  kitchen,  dining  and  sitting  room's,  halls,  parlor  and  bed- 
rooms, with  stairway  of  easy,  graceful  ascent.  The  general 
finish  of  the  house,  inside  and  out,  was  all  that  could  be  de- 
sired to  make  it  attractive  and  inviting.  Besides,  its  ex- 
tended veranda,  with  high  windows  opening  thereupon  from 
the  sitting-room  and  parlor,  constituted  one  of  the  most 
comfortable  and  pleasant  features  of  the  structure.  It 
faced  in  full  view  East  College  Street,  upon  which  the 
premises  were  located.  Of  this  street  it  may  be  said  that  it 
was  the  most  popular  and  desirable  for  residences  of  any  in 
Oberlin.  Lands  upon  it  for  this  reason  were  very  valuable 
and  commanded  the  highest  prices.  In  such  a  home,  with 
such  pleasant  environments  and  in  the  midst  of  such  agree- 
able friends  and  neighbors,  Mr.  Langston  and  his  family 


160       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

commenced  that  professional  and  social  life  in  Oberlin 
which  they  can  only  recollect  with  feelings  of  deepest  pleas- 
ure and  gratitnde. 

One  year  before  Mr.  Langston  left  Brownhelm,  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Slater  moved  with  their  son  John  to  the  far  West, 
where  they  located  in  comfortable  circumstances  upon  an 
unimproved  farm,  to  which  they  devoted  their  whole  atten- 
tion and  care,  making  for  themselves  a  fair  living,  while 
they  enjoyed  in  their  new  conditions  such  opportunities  for 
social,  moral  and  religious  improvement  as  that  section  of 
the  country  then  afforded. 

The  many  friends  whom  Mr.  Langston  had  gained  while 
living  in  Brownhelm,  through  his  social,  professional,  polit- 
ical and  business  relations,  did  not  lose  sight  of  him,  nor 
fail  to  "make  frequent  calls  upon  him  as  they  needed  his 
services,  nor  to  bring  themselves  in  social  contact  with  him 
and  his  family,  after  he  had  located  in  Oberlin.  Colonel 
Peck  and  his  family,  including  every  member,  proved  to  be 
constant  friends  of  the  Langstons,  and  often  did  them  the 
honor  to  share  their  hospitality,  as  they  visited  Oberlin  on 
business  or  social  errands.  Mr.  Langston  always  claimed 
that  he  did  his  excellent  friend,  Colonel  Peck,  a  special  service 
by  directing  his  attention  to  the  community  in  Oberlin, 
which,  while  it  was  intelligently  considerate  of  the  negro 
and  his  welfare,  was  not  in  any  sense  hostile  to  any  white 
man,  whether  he  held  Democratic  pro-slavery  sentiments 
or  not.  And  so  the  good  colonel  finally  admitted. 

As  intimated,  Mr.  Langston  while  upon  his  farm  found 
his  law  business  steadily  increasing  in  quantity  and  charac- 
ter. So  much  was  this  the  case,  that  he  not  only  abandoned 
all  thought  of  any  other  business  and  devoted  himself  en- 
tirely to  the  law,  but  felt  confident  that  his  success  in  such 
behalf  was  really  assured.  He  had  feared  at  first  that  he 
might  not  be  able  to  make  headway  against  such  opposition 
in  his  profession  as  he  felt  and  expected  that  he  must  meet. 
He  knew  it  was  difficult,  ordinarily,  for  a  young  white  person 
to  succeed  without  great  and  special  encourgement  in  the 
practice  of  law.  He  had  seen  several  who  had  failed,  be- 


SUCCESSFUL  LAW  PRACTICE  IN  OHIO.  161 

cause  as  they  claimed,  they  had  no  encouragement  or  sym- 
pathy, and  had  not  been  able  to  secure  anything  like  re- 
munerative and  self-sustaining  business.  Among  these  he 
had  seen  one  or  two  very  talented  persons  of  the  latter  class 
who  had  given  up  in  utter  despair.  One  of  these  was  a 
classmate  of  his  own,  who  seemed  to  have  every  promise 
in  his  favor,  so  far  as  ability,  learning  and  application  were 
concerned,  and  yet  he  failed  in  a  profession  to  whose 
cultivation  he  had  given  time  and  means,  to  which  he 
appeared  to  be  devoted,  and  of  whose  attractive  character, 
as  seen  in  theory  and  in  the  experience  of  others,  he  was 
wont  to  speak  with  enthusiasm,  often  with  eloquence.  How 
then  was  it  to  be  expected  that  he,  without  friends  in  the 
profession  specially  interested  in  him,  and  but  a  modicum 
of  encouragement  found  in  the  favorable  circumstances  of 
his  commencement  in  professional  life,  thanks  to  Mr.  Perry, 
could  have  felt  otherwise,  constantly,  in  the  beginning, 
certainly,  than  that  he  must  fail ! 

But  he  was  not  long  in  discovering  that  when  one  goes 
upon  the  market  with  an  article  for  sale  at  reasonable  rates 
which  is  in  demand,  it  matters  very  little  as  a  rule  whether 
the  vendor  be  Jew  or  Gentile,  white  or  black.  Have  you 
what  is  in  demand  and  is  it  of  first  quality?  Is  it  a  trifle 
better  than  any  other  of  the  sort  offered  ?  Here  is  the  se- 
cret of  success  !  If  one  succeed  well  in  defending  the  liq- 
uor-seller or  the  thief,  displaying  learning,  skill,  ability  and 
courage,  while  he  maintains  his  professional  integrity,  he 
need  not  fear  that  very  soon  even  the  more  respectable 
classes  of  the  community  having  business  requiring  such 
qualifications  in  the  lawyer,  will  find  and  employ  him.  The 
question  after  all,  as  an  able  and  prudent  man  will  always 
find  in  life  of  whatsoever  profession  he  may  be,  is,  can  he 
put  upon  the  market  to  answer  popular  demand  something 
superior  and  individual.  A  lawyer  may  even  have  learning, 
tact  and  discretion,  and  there  may  be  added  to  these  accom- 
plishments personal  and  professional  honor.  While,  as  a 
rule,  these  would  seem  to  constitute  guarantees  of  success, 
failing  in  the  courage  which  must  always  come  of  one's  con- 


1 62       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

fidence  in  his  own  powers  and  the  legal  sufficiency  of  the 
ground-work  of  his  cause,  he  would  probably  never  succeed 
as  a  great  and  influential  attorney.  Indeed  it  is  often  the 
case  that  such  courage  even  more  certainly  than  the  other 
qualifications  mentioned  wins  success  and  name  for  the  ad- 
vocate. Sometimes,  too,  physical  courage  is  needed,  and 
when  this  is  the  case  there  must  be  no  display  of  anything 
like  cowardice. 

It  was  not  many  days  after  Mr.  Langston  had  located  his 
family  in  Oberlin,  before  North  Main  Street  in  that  village 
was  graced  with  a  new  law  office,  to  which  the  public  was 
directed  by  a  new  sign  connected  therewith,  reading — 
"John  M.  Langston,  Attorney  and  Counsellor  at  Law, 
Solicitor  in  Chancery  and  Notary  Public."  His  many 
friends  and  patrons  in  whose  behalf  he  had  already  served, 
were  not  long  in  finding  his  new  whereabouts,  and  others  in 
need  of  his  services  did  not  neglect  him.  The  only 
class  in  the  general  population  which  did  not  supply  him 
patronage  for  the  first  six  years  of  his  practice  after  his  lo- 
cation in  Oberlin  were  the  colored  people.  It  was  not  be- 
cause, probably,  of  their  want  of  confidence  in  his  ability, 
skill,  courage  or  success,  but  because  of  the  constitution  of 
all  courts  and  juries  under  Ohio  law,  composed  as  they 
were  solely  of  white  persons,  who  as  a  rule  were  full  of 
prejudice  against  the  negro,  and  so  easily  influenced  by  any 
fact  or  circumstance  calculated  to  stir  their  feelings  against 
him.  It  is  a  fact  that  every  day's  labor  added  to  Mr. 
Langston's  reputation,  influence  and  business,  and  this  the 
class  referred  to  could  see  and  understand.  However,  they 
noticed  the  other  significant  fact  to  them,  that  his  clients 
were  all  of  the  white  class.  They  could  not  understand 
what  the  result  would  be,  should  a  black  client  appear  be- 
fore the  court  and  jury  represented  by  a  colored  lawyer. 
At  this  time,  no  black  or  mulatto  witness  could  testify, 
under  Ohio  law,  against  a  white  man  who  objected  thereto, 
and  no  one  of  those  classes  was  called  to  act  as  juror  in  any 
case  whatever ;  nor  would  it  have  been  regarded  as  any 
other  than  foolhardy,  for  one  of  those  classes  to  imagine  or 


SUCCESSFUL  LAW  PRACTICE  IN  OHIO.  163 

attempt  to  conceive  of  himself  as  ever  capable  of  becoming 
a  justice  of  the  peace  or  judge.  The  colored  people  did 
not  employ  the  colored  lawyer  because  they  feared  the 
effects  of  that  course  upon  their  interests,  as  they  were 
brought  under  the  circumstances  to  judicial  consideration 
and  decision. 

Mr.  Langston  never  entertained  the  least  doubt  that  this 
explanation  was  entirely  true,  nor  did  he  ever  entertain  the 
least  hard  feeling  because  his  own  people  thus  hesitated  to 
give  him  their  patronage.  It  was  just  seven  years  after  his 
admission  to  the  Bar,  after  his  experience  as  called  to  prac- 
tice in  Brownhelm  and  neighboring  places,  and  not  less  than 
five  years  after  he  had  opened  his  office,  that  the  first  colored 
man  called  upon  him  to  consult  and  retain  him  as  his  attor- 
ney. With  this  person  Mr.  Langston  was  entirely  frank 
and  earnest,  saying  to  him  that  he  feared  that  he  was  mis- 
taken in  his  call,  that  he  was  the  colored  lawyer,  and  that  the 
colored  people  had  not  employed  him,  but  appeared  in 
court  where  they  had  business  by  white  lawyers.  When 
this  man  insisted  that  he  knew  what  he  wanted,  and  told  the 
lawyer  that  he  needed  and  was  willing  to  pay  for  his  ser- 
vices, having  confidence  in  his  ability,  his  tact,  energy  and 
honor,  and  that  he  had  no  fears  even  before  a  white  judge 
and  a  white  jury  as  to  the  result,  Mr.  Langston  agreed  to 
act  as  his  attorney,  and  did  so  to  his  entire  satisfaction  in  the 
victory  which  he  achieved  in  his  case,  and  against  a  firm  of 
two  able  and  well-known  white  lawyers.  Thereafter  Mr. 
Langston  shared  fully  with  his  white  colleagues  of  the  Bar, 
even  the  business  of  his  colored  fellow-citizens,  winning  as 
many  suits  for  them  in  proportion  to  the  number  tried  as  for 
any  other  class.  It  is  true  however  that  the  heavier  and 
more  important  part  of  his  practice  came  from  the  Demo- 
cratic element  of  society,  and  in  not  a  single  case  to  his 
knowledge  was  one  of  such  clients  disappointed  or  displeased 
with  the  conduct  of  his  business. 

As  to  physical  as  well  as  moral  and  professional  courage, 
Mr.  Langston  was  taught  lessons  in  his  experience  which  it 
is  hoped  no  other  young  lawyer,  even  of  the  colored  class, 


1 64       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

will  ever  have  to  apply  in  the  least  sense  or  manner  to  pro- 
tect and  sustain  themselves  in  any  part  of  the  country, 
among  any  class  of  the  people.  The  facts  of  each  case 
detailed  here  will  prove  to  be  it  is  hoped  of  interest,  as 
serving  to  show  what  the  public  feeling  was  which  the  col- 
ored lawyer  had  to  encounter  and  overcome  in  the  early 
days  of  his  professional  career.  On  several  different  occa- 
sions, in  connection  with,  his  experience  in  the  less  advanced 
and  untried  ways  of  his  profession,  he  was  called  to  meet 
such  displays  of  ill  feeling  and  bad  temper  towards  him,  as 
to  provoke  and  justify  even  demonstrations  of  force  within 
the  sacred  precincts  of  the  law. 

In  the  first  case,  he  had  been  engaged  and  retained  to 
appear  in  the  court  of  a  justice  of  the  peace  at  Florence 
Corners,  Huron  County,  Ohio.  He  was  to  represent  a 
party,  defendant,  against  whom  an  action  in  replevin  had 
been  instituted  to  recover  certain  creatures — fatted  steers. 
There  was  more  or  less  popular  feeling  stirred  up  against 
the  defendant,  a  drover  living  in  the  adjoining  county. 
It  went  so  far  that  he  was  finally  notified  that  neither  he 
nor  his  lawyer  had  better  make  their  appearance,  especially 
the  latter,  in  the  court  on  the  day  of  trial,  and  that  if  the 
colored  lawyer  did  appear,  he  might  be  compelled  to  con- 
front even  violence.  No  attention  was  paid  to  such  threats 
or  the  warning,  and  at  the  hour  precisely  for  the  case  to  be 
called,  the  client  and  lawyer  appeared,  and  the  latter 
answered  promptly  for  the  former.  Threatening  looks 
were  shown,  and  menacing  words  in  undertones  were  whis- 
pered against  the  lawyer,  and  one  brazen-faced  person 
whose  words  discovered  his  lack  of  intelligence  and  the 
meanness  of  his  soul,  even  went  so  far  as  to  declare  as  the 
colored  lawyer  passed  him  on  the  street,  that  "  The  com- 
munity has  reached  a  pitiable  condition  when  a  nigger 
lawyer  goes  in  pompous  manner  about  this  town."  But  it 
was  not  until  the  court  took  a  brief  recess,  awaiting  the 
arrival  of  six  jurors  who  were  being  summoned  to  try  the 
case,  that  the  attorney  on  the  opposite  side,  a  local  lawyer, 
undertook  by  certain  offensive,  vulgar  language,  in  accord- 


SUCCESSFUL  LAW  PRACTICE  IN  OHIO.  165 

ance  with  the  apparent  desire  of  the  rabble,  to  provoke 
reply  from,  and  justify  assault  upon  Mr.  Langston.  He 
met  promptly  the  insult  in  such  manner  and  spirit,  that  at 
once  he  turned  the  popular  feeling  against  his  assailant, 
winning  himself  the  sympathy  and  applause  of  the  by- 
standers, and  finally  the  case  which  he  was  there  to  try.  If 
blows  were  used  it  was  because  they  were  necessary. 

In  the  next  case,  he  had  been  retained  to  conduct  a  cause 
involving  several  hundred  dollars,  consequent  '  upon  the 
breach  of  a  contract  made  between  certain  persons  residents 
of  Oberlin.  The  parties  had  been  called  and  had  answered 
by  their  attorneys  as  ready  for  trial,  when  Mr.  Langston 
suggested  to  the  court  that  the  opposing  lawyers  had  failed 
to  file  an  important  pleading  in  the  case.  This  suggestion 
was  received  in  good  part  by  the  court  and  the  attorneys  at 
fault,  who  upon  permission  proceeded  to  draw  and  file  the 
paper.  While  such  service  was  occupying  the  attention  of 
his  lawyers,  their  client,  a  nervous,  excitable  man,  paced  the 
floor  of  the  court  room,  moving  to  and  fro,  talking  appar- 
ently to  himself.  At  the  time,  Mr.  Langston  stood  near  by 
conversing  with  his  client.  As  the  excited  gentleman  dre\v 
near  to  him,  addressing  himself,  as  was  supposed,  to  Mr.  Lang- 
ston, the  latter  not  catching  with  distinctness  the  remark, 
inquired  politely  of  the  gentleman,  "What  did  you  say?" 
when  in  angry  voice,  with  insult  in  his  words  and  manner, 
he  replied,  "  I  was  talking  to  a  white  man."  At  the  utter- 
ance of  these  words,  assuming  threatening  attitude  he  came 
toward  and  very  near  Mr.  Langston,  who,  insulted  and 
angered  by  the  insinuations  and  conduct  of  this  person, 
immediately  struck  him  with  his  fist,  felling  him  to  the  floor. 
Great  excitement  of  course  was  produced  by  this  occurrence. 
The  judge  sat  in  his  seat,  the  jurors  in  their  places,  the 
lawyers  about  the  bar,  while  the  by-standers  awaited  the 
proceedings  of  the  cause.  All  were  greatly  stirred  by  this 
exhibition  of  anger  and  violence.  After  the  first  moment  of 
the  surprise  thus  created  had  passed,  Mr.  Langston  step- 
ping forward  confessed  himself  as  in  contempt  of  the  court 
and  ready  to  accept  any  punishment,  fine  or  even  imprison- 


1 66       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

ment,  according  to  its  pleasure  ;  protesting,  however,  that  no 
man  should  ever  refer  to  his  color,  even  in  a  court  room  and 
in  the  presence  of  the  judge  and  jury  engaged  in  their 
judicial  labors,  to  insult  and  degrade  him,  without  prompt 
and  immediate  attempt  on  his  part  to  resent  it,  with  any 
and  every  means  and  method  at  his  command.  But  the 
judge  would  not  treat  him  as  in  contempt.  On  the  other 
hand,  he  held  that  anyone  referring  to  him,  he  being  a 
member  of  the  Bar  of  the  State  in  good  and  regular  stand- 
ing, in  contemptuous,  insulting  terms  and  manner,  must  if 
even  knocked  down,  take  the  consequences  of  his  own  con- 
duct. And  so  the  grand  jury  of  the  county  held,  when  this 
case  had  been  presented  to  them  upon  every  circumstance 
of  law  and  fact,  and  without  a  single  word  of  reply  or  ex- 
planation from  the  colored  lawyer.  In  fact,  the  foreman 
of  the  grand  jury  told  him  that  its  action  in  his  behalf  was 
unanimous  and  vindicatory  of  his  conduct. 

Another  matter  of  interest,  in  connection  with  which  Mr. 
Langston  felt  called  upon  to  defend  his  professional  honor, 
was  that  of  a  very  grave  charge  made  against  him  to  one  of 
his  clients.  He  had  been  employed  by  the  first  colored 
man  who  had  come  to  his  office  to  secure  his  legal  services. 
The  subject  involved  was  the  recovery  of  a  little  daughter, 
who  had  been  taken  from  the  home  and  custody  of  her 
father.  The  parents  having  had  a  misunderstanding  had 
reached  mutual  agreement  and  amicable  separation.  It 
was  understood  and  agreed  that  the  father  should  retain 
control  and  possession  of  the  daughter.  She  was,  however, 
wrongfully  and  stealthily  spirited  away.  To  aid  him  in 
her  recovery  the  colored  father  employed  his  lawyer,  as 
stated.  Thereafter,  as  the  client  was  passing  in  the  street, 
a  white  attorney  who  had  enjoyed  for  a  long  time  the 
patronage  of  any  colored  person  having  legal  business 
which  required  professional  attention,  asked  whether  he 
had,  really,  employed  the  "  nigger  lawyer  "  to  attend  to  his 
case,  saying  at  the  same  time,  "  If  you  have,  he  will 
sell  you  out " ;  meaning  thereby  that  the  colored  lawyer 
would  prove  treacherous.  The  colored  client  in  this  case 


SUCCESSFUL  LAW  PRACTICE  IN  OHIO.  167 

was  at  best  a  very  timid  person  ;  however,  he  was  wise 
enough  to  come  directly  to  his  lawyer  and  tell  him  what 
had  been  said,  and  by  whom.  As  between  them,  the  law- 
yer and  client,  large  mutual  esteem  and  confidence  existed, 
the  latter  was  not  disposed  to  question  for  a  moment 
the  integrity  of  the  former.  When  Mr.  Langston  declared 
that  he  would  see  the  attorney  who  had  made  the  state- 
ment, at  once  and  with  his  client,  the  latter  said,  "  No,  do 
not  think  of  such  a  thing!  You  know  I  have  entire  confi- 
ence  in  you."  His  attorney  replying  said,  with  great  vehe- 
mence, "  This  man  must  take  this  whole  statement  back  !  " 
Within  a  very  few  minutes,  Mr.  Langston  and  his  client 
left  his  office  in  company  for  the  court  room,  where  the 
case  was  to  be  heard  and  determined.  On  the  way  they 
passed  the  door  of  the  person  who  had  employed  the  state- 
ment as  given,  so  derogatory  and  unjust  to  his  fellow-mem- 
ber of  the  Bar.  He  stood  in  his  own  doorway,  when  Mr. 
Langston  advancing,  with  his  client  present,  asked  him  if 
he  had  made  the  statement  indicated.  He  pretended  to 
deny  it  ;  but,  when  his  look  and  manner  sustained  the 
colored  man's  declaration,  even  beyond  the  possibility  of 
question,  Mr.  Langston,  deeply  moved  by  indignation  and 
anger,  administered  to  him  not  only  a  sound  slapping  of 
the  face,  but  a  round  thorough  kicking  as  he  ran  crying 
for  help.  Preceding  Mr.  Langston  and  his  client  in  arrival 
before  the  judge,  as  they  entered  the  court  room  this  attor- 
ney with  a  bloody  nose,  smarting  under  the  deserved 
castigation  which  he  had  received,  was  making  a  very  seri- 
ous and  solemn  complaint  of  vexatious  and  outrageous 
assault  and  battery  against  him  by  this  nigger  lawyer! 
But  a  very  brief  statement  of  the  facts,  without  even  the 
most  concise  explanation,  sufficed  to  satisfy  the  court  that 
he  against  whom  complaint  was  made  had  acted  in  defence 
of  his  honor  and  should  be  sustained.  This  person  who 
had  thus  outraged  a  lawyer  of  standing  to  his  first  colored 
client  asked,  as  he  claimed,  justice  of  the  court  as  stated 
in  the  first  instance  and  subsequently  of  the  grand  jury, 
against  his  assailant,  as  he  termed  Mr.  Langston,  but  in 
both  cases  without  effect. 


i68       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

No  unseemly  or  ruffianly  conduct  is  to  be  tolerated  or 
justified  in  a  lawyer,  and  yet  he  must  be  ready  always  to 
defend  and  protect  his  professional  honor,  dignity  and 
standing.  If  need  be,  let  it  be  done  even  with  blows ! 

His  residence  in  Oberlin  was  not  without  additional  and 
important  advantages  to  Mr.  Langston.  Besides  giving 
him  improved  opportunities  for  the  cultivation  of  all  those 
weightier  matters  of  his  profession,  he  was  placed  where  he 
could  accomplish  more  desirable  political  and  official  objects. 
He  was  at  once  nominated  and  elected  clerk  of  Russia 
Township,  and  given,  ex-officio,  not  only  the  law  business  of 
that  town  to  attend  to,  but  was  made  secretary  of  the  Board 
of  Education  and  school  visitor.  These  were  important 
positions  in  the  township,  and  were  of  special  advantage  to 
a  lawyer  needing  popular  endorsement  and  advertisement 
in  establishing  himself  in  his  profession.  After  Mr.  Lang- 
ston had  demonstrated  his  interest  in  every  enterprise  cal- 
culated to  conserve  and  promote  the  common  good,  the 
electors  of  the  incorporated  village  of  Oberlin  elected  him 
as  early  as  1857,  and  repeatedly  thereafter,  to  the  City 
Council,  and  in  1860  to  the  Board  of  Education.  He  served 
in  this  board — an  organization  provided  for  the  conduct  and 
management  of  the  city  union  schools — for  over  ten  consec- 
utive years,  discovering  special  fitness  and  efficiency  for  the 
services  connected  therewith.  When,  finally,  he  was  com- 
pelled by  other  engagements  to  resign  his  position  in  the 
board,  he  had,  according  to  his  last  election,  three  years  to 
serve  before  his  term  of  office  expired. 

The  following  letter  will  show  how  his  fellow-members  of 
the  Board  of  Education,  all  of  them  being  white  persons, 
regarded  and  esteemed  him.  It  finds  insertion  here  with 
profound  special  pleasure,  as  coming  from  those  who  de- 
serve of  him  only  honorable,  grateful  mention. 

"  OFFICE  SUPERINTENDENT  PUBLIC  SCHOOLS, 

"  Oberlin,  Ohio,  Oct.  6,  1871 
"  PROF.  JOHN  M.  LANGSTON, 
"  Dear  sir : 

"  At  a  meeting  of  the  Board  of  Education  held  on  the  26th  of  Sep- 
tember tilt,  your  resignation  as  a  member  thereof,  offered  on  the  i6th  of  the 
same  month,  was  accepted. 


SUCCESSFUL  LAW  PRACTICE  IN  OHIO.  169 

"  The  undersigned  was  directed  to  extend  to  you  an  expression  of  the  regard 
which  the  board  has  entertained  for  you  as  a  member  and  the  regret  they  feel 
at  the  necessity  of  this  separation.  Since  the  organization  of  the  board  in 
March,  1860,  you  have  been  continuously  a  member.  You  have  contributed 
largely  to  the  commendable  progress  which  the  schools  have  made.  Your 
voice  has  always  been  earnest  for  a  greater  advancement  in  the  course  of  study 
pursued,  and  in  elevating  the  standard  of  attainment.  In  securing  this  very 
desirable  end,  obstacles  more  or  less  formidable  have  been  presented  from 
time  to  time,  only  to  be  overcome  by  a  steady  and  persistent  course,  impera- 
tively demanded  by  the  best  interests  of  the  schools.  In  the  prosecution  of 
this  noble  work  you  have  enjoyed  a  long  and  honorable  career,  and  in  retiring 
from  this  field,  you  have  the  satisfaction  of  witnessing  a  grade  of  schools 
second  to  none  in  throughness  and  efficiency,  in  management  and  good  results. 

"  May  you  continue  to  reap  in  your  new  field  of  labor  and  usefulness  the  rich 
harvest  which  always  comes  from  a  determined  purpose  to  do  good  to  your 
fellows  in  all  the  relations  of  life. 

"  In  behalf  of  the  Board  of  Education, 

(Signed)        "  HOMER  JOHNSON,  Clerk." 

Such  expressions  of  consideration  and  confidence,  as 
stated,  made  as  they  were  in  public  positive  manner  by  the 
vote  of  the  people,  gave  Mr.  Langston  assured  professional 
standing  in  the  community,  and  greatly  enhanced  and  ex- 
tended his  influence  and  business.  And  he  must  ever  recol- 
lect them  with  pleasing  feelings  and  lasting  gratitude. 

As  to  his  ability  and  standing  as  a  lawyer,  the  following 
testimony,  borne  by  the  late  Mr.  William  Wells  Brown,  is 
both  interesting  and  complimentary.  It  is  recorded  in  his 
work  entitled  "  The  Black  Man."  He  says  : 

"  Being  at  Oberlin  a  few  years  since  and  learning  that  a  suit  was  to  be  tried 
in  which  Langston  was  counsel  for  the  defence,  I  attended.  Two  white 
lawyers,  one  from  Elyria,  the  other  residing  at  Oberlin,  were  for  the  plaintiff. 
One  day  was  consumed  in  the  examination  and  cross-questioning  of  witnesses, 
in  which  the  colored  lawyer  showed  himself  more  than  a  match  for  his  antag- 
onists. The  plaintiff's  counsel  moved  an  adjournment  to  the  next  day.  The 
following  morning  the  court  room  was  full  before  the  arrival  of  the  presiding 
justice  and  much  interest  was  manifested  on  both  sides.  Langston's  oratory 
was  a  model  for  the  students  at  the  collage  and  all  who  could  leave  their 
studies  or  recitations  were  present.  When  the  trial  commenced,  it  was 
observed  that  the  plaintiff  had  introduced  a  third  lawyer  on  their  side.  This 
was  an  exhibition  of  weakness  on  his  part,  and  proved  the  power  of  the  '  black 
lawyer,'  who  stood  single-handed  and  alone.  The  pleading  commenced,  and 
consumed  the  forenoon  ;  the  plaintiff  only  being  heard.  An  adjournment  for 
an  hour  occurred,  and  then  began  one  of  the  most  powerful  addresses  that  I 
had  heard  for  a  long  time.  In  vigor  of  thought,  in  imagery  of  style,  in  logical 


i/o       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

connection,  in  vehemence,  in  depth,  in  point  and  in  beauty  of  language,  Lang- 
ston  surpassed  his  opponents,  won  the  admiration  of  the  jury  and  the  audience, 
and  what  is  still  better  for  his  credit,  he  gained  the  suit.  Mr.  Langston's 
practice  extends  to  Columbus,  the  capital  of  the  State,  and  in  the  county  towns 
within  fifty  miles  of  his  home,  he  is  considered  the  most  successful  man  at  the 
bar. 

"  An  accomplished  scholar  and  a  good  student,  he  displays  in  his  speeches  an 
amount  of  literary  acquirements  not  often  found  in  the  mere  business  lawyer. 
When  pleading  he  speaks  like  a  man  under  oath,  though  without  any  starched 
formality  of  expression.  The  test  of  his  success  is  the  permanent  impression 
which  his  speeches  leave  on  the  memory.  They  do  not  pass  away  with  the 
excitement  of  the  moment,  but  remain  in  the  mind,  with  the  lively  colors  and 
true  proportions  of  the  scenes  which  they  represent.  Mr.  Langston  is  of 
medium  size  and  good  figure,  high  and  well-formed  forehead,  eyes  full,  but  not 
prominent,  mild  and  amiable  countenance,  modest  deportment,  strong,  musical 
voice,  and  wears  the  air  of  a  gentleman.  He  is  highly  respected  by  men  of  the 
legal  profession  throughout  the  State.  He  is  a  vigorous  writer,  and  in  the 
political  campaigns,  contributes  both  with  speech  and  pen  to  the  liberal  cause. 
Few  men  in  the  Southwest  have  held  the  black  man's  standard  higher  than 
John  Mercer  Langston." 


CHAPTER  XIII. 

A    RARE    AND     INTERESTING      CASE    WHICH    TESTED     HIS 
POWERS. 

MR.  LANGSTON'S  practice  embraced  legal  subjects  of 
every  character,  civil  and  criminal,  which  constantly  taxed 
his  learning,  skill  and  power.  Many  noted  cases  in  connec- 
tion with  which  he  was  called  to  act  and  made  displays  of 
signal  ability  and  tact  might  be  mentioned,  but  a  single  one, 
as  presenting  an  illustration  of  the  laborious  and  faithful 
manner  in  which  he  did  his  business,  shall  answer.  The 
peculiar  character  of  this  case,  the  situation  and  relations  of 
the  parties  to  it,  the  remarkable  incidents  connected  with 
it,  the  gravity  of  the  charge  preferred  against  the  accused, 
and  her  past  and  present  position  as  well  as  the  success  and 
effects  of  the  attorney's  efforts,  make  it  one  famous  and 
memorable.  The  names  of  the  parties  for  prudential  rea- 
sons may  not  be  given,  but  the  case  with  all  the  unique 
circumstances  attending  its  institution,  trial  and  conclusion, 
stands  here  as  reported  in  the  judicial  records  of  Lorain 
County,  Ohio.  Hundreds  who  attended  the  trial  and  wit- 
nessed its  conduct  are  still  living,  and  could  were  it  neces- 
sary, bear  testimony  to  the  correctness  of  this  statement. 

The  real  parties  to  this  case  though  it  was  a  criminal  one, 
were  two  young  white  ladies  on  the  one  part,  and  a  young 
colored  lady  on  the  other.  They  were  friends,  sustaining 
to  each  other  the  most  intimate  and  cordial  relations. 
They  resided  in  the  same  house,  though  they  occupied  so 
171 


172       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

far  as  the  colored  lady  was  concerned,  different  apartments. 
They  met  each  other  daily,  exchanged  visits  regularly  and 
frequently  several  times  each  day,  and  held  conversations 
in  free  and  frank  manner  upon  every  conceivable  subject  of 
interest  to  them,  confiding  to  each  other  even  their  most 
important,  special  and  sacred  personal  affairs.  They  were 
students  of  Oberlin  College,  and  their  quarters  were  located 
at  the  home  of  one  of  the  first  families  of  the  town,  where 
like  many  others  of  the  same  class  they  boarded  themselves. 
The  lady  of  the  family,  a  person  of  excellent  sterling  qual- 
ities of  character,  judicious  and  motherly,  took  general 
charge  of  them.  The  house  was  situated  in  North  Main 
Street,  Oberlin,  and  was  several  stories  in  height,  capacious 
in  its  rooms  and  halls,  and  admirably  adapted  to  the  pur- 
poses for  which  it  was  used.  Its  grounds  in  front  used  for 
garden  and  yard  were  ample,  with  pleasant  walks  and 
promenades,  and  a  large  field  of  one  or  two  acres  lying  in 
its  rear.  The  fact  that  these  persons  were  accepted  as 
inmates  of  the  family  referred  to,  would  indicate  to  anyone 
well  advised  in  the  premises,  that  they  were  of  good  social 
position  and  possessed  of  means  which  enabled  them  to 
maintain  and  support  much  more  than  ordinary  standing  in 
life.  Their  presence  in  such  family  was  to  the  initiated 
proof  positive  that  they  were  ladies  against  whom  no 
tongue  of  slander  could  be  used.  The  white  young  ladies 
were  representatives  of  families  of  wealth  and  name. 
And  the  young  colored  lady,  while  without  family  name  or 
property,  was  esteemed  of  the  best  character,  and  was  sup- 
ported by  a  devoted,  industrious,  thrifty  brother,  doing 
business  in  California,  who  supplied,  even  anticipating  every 
want  of  hers,  after  the  style  and  manner  of  a  person  of 
ample  income. 

Thus  handsomely  and  pleasantly  located,  these  young 
lady  students,  full  of  youthful  spirit  and  brightest  hope,  had 
advanced  far  into  the  winter  term  of  Oberlin  College  for 
1859-60,  when  the  events  occurred  out  of  which  grew  the 
remarkable  suit  of  which  mention  shall  be  made.  The 
three  had  passed,  with  several  other  young  lady  friends,  in 


AN  INTERESTING  CASE.  173 

happy,  confidential,  cordial  association,  each  communica- 
ting to  the  other  whatever  might  be  true  with  respect  to 
her  actual  health  or  feelings,  the  Sunday-evening  previous 
to  the  Monday  morning  upon  which  the  crime  subse- 
quently charged  was  said  to  have  been  committed.  It  is  to 
be  noted  that  the  young  ladies  made  their  personal  health, 
among  other  special  matters,  the  subject  of  earnest  and 
protracted  conversation.  The  young  white  ladies  admitted 
that  they  were  not  quite  well,  and  that  though  they  had 
hoped  otherwise,  they  did  not  find  themselves  improving. 
Notwithstanding,  they  told  their  associates  that  they  had 
been  invited  by  two  of  their  young  gentlemen  friends  to 
take  a  sleigh-ride  the  next  day,  going  as  far  as  nine  miles 
away  to  the  home  of  one  of  the  ladies  in  a  neighboring 
town  and  county,  and  that  they  intended  to  go  and  take 
dinner  with  their  escorts  and  friends  at  the  home  at  which 
they  would  make  their  visit.  These  young  ladies  were  not 
sisters,  not  even  relatives,  but  friends  and  room-mates  as 
well  as  fellow-students. 

At  ten  o'clock,  or  thereabout  on  Monday  morning,  the 
young  colored  lady  leaving  her  own  room  in  the  second 
story  of  the  house  directly  over  that  of  her  two  friends, 
made  them  a  call  in  their  own  room.  After  hurried  but 
warm  usual  salutations,  the  colored  friend  inquired  of  her 
neighbors  as  to  whether  she  could  serve  them  in  any  way. 
At  first  the  answer  was  negative.  But  when  on  being 
asked  whether  they  had  taken  anything  warm  to  drink  dur- 
ing the  morning  to  protect  them  against  the  cold  on  their 
drive,  they  replied  that  they  had  not,  their  visitor  immedi- 
ately invited  and  urged  them  to  come  to  her  room,  that  she 
might  prepare  and  give  them  something  agreeable  and 
warm.  The  morning  was  indeed  wintry  enough.  The 
snow  was  deep,  solid,  and  firm,  with  no  prospect  of  increas- 
ing warmth  in  the  frosty  condition  of  the  weather.  The 
invitation  was  accepted  and  at  once  the  young  ladies  re- 
paired hurriedly  to  the  room  of  their  friend.  The  three 
going  together  entered  her  room  at  the  same  instant.  She 
asked  her  friends  the  question,  what  they  would  have,  when 


174       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

the  answer  came,  "  that  which  is  most  convenient  and  you 
think  best."  The  little  clean  tin  pan  was  put  upon  the 
stove,  wine,  with  allspice  and  sugar,  was  poured  into  it,  and 
very  soon  its  contents,  duly  heated  apparently,  were  emptied 
into  three  different  glasses  to  be  used  by  each  of  the  three 
young  ladies.  The  two  young  white  ladies  drank  theirs  at 
once.  But  the  other  declined  hers  with  a  mere  touch  of 
the  lips,  declaring  that  it  was  not  warm  enough  and  was 
insipid.  The  two  empty  glasses  were  set  upon  the  stand 
near  at  hand,  and  as  the  young  gentlemen  with  the  sleighs 
were  announced  at  this  point,  the  three  young  ladies  left  the 
room  in  great  haste  and  together — two  to  go  upon  the 
ride  and  the  other  to  join  the  large  company  of  friends 
who  came  from  their  rooms  to  the  yard  and  street  to  bid 
their  happy  companions  good-bye,  and  to  wish  them  and 
their  escorts  a  delightful  time. 

One  hour  and  a  quarter  had  elapsed,  as  stood  the  evi- 
dence, when  the  two  young  ladies  upon  the  ride  found 
themselves  deadly  sick,  both  exactly  alike,  and  were  both 
obliged  not  only  to  make  known  their  condition  to  the 
young  men,  but  to  ask  of  them  help.  They  had  travelled 
over  two-thirds  of  the  distance  to  be  gone,  and  nothing 
could  be  done  but  to  drive  on,  pressing  the  horses  to  the 
utmost  of  their  speed,  so  as  to  secure  medical  aid  as  soon  as 
possible.  Within  one  hour  and  a  half  from  the  time  of 
starting,  the  home,  where  the  visit  was  to  be  made  was 
reached,  and  when  the  young  lady  who  resided  there  was 
taken  from  the  sleigh  in  the  arms  of  her  parents,  she  de- 
clared to  them  that  she  had  been  poisoned,  naming  the  per- 
son who  had  done  it,  and  saying  that  she  herself  must  die. 
As  the  other  lady  was  borne  from  her  sleigh,  she  was  found 
to  be  sick  precisely  as  her  friend.  Both  were  at  once  put 
to  bed  and  doctors  were  immediately  called.  Upon  ex- 
amination and  diagnosis,  they  pronounced  their  patients 
sick  of  poisoning  and  in  most  critical  condition,  liable  to 
die  at  any  moment.  Without  the  least  hesitation,  at  the 
home  and  at  the  house  in  Oberlin,  as  the  news  of  the  con- 
dition of  the  young  ladies  was  brought  back,  with  signal 


AN  INTERESTING  CASE.  175 

\ 

unanimity  the  one  who  had  given  the  wine,  allspice  and 
sugar,  was  charged  with  the  grave  crime  of  poisoning  her 
associates  and  friends.  The  circumstances  seemed  to  justify 
such  feeling  and  charge. 

How  two  weeks  of  anxious  watching  and  waiting,  with 
prayers  for  the  recovery  of  the  sick,  tarried  like  some  fright- 
ful spirit  in  the  household,  saddening  the  hearts  of  the 
parents  and  friends  of  the  two  young  ladies,  now  apparently 
so  near  unto  death  !  And  with  the  young  colored  lady  and 
her  few  staunch  friends,  as  public  sentiment  grew  apace 
against  her  and  intensified  itself,  they  and  she  meantime 
declaring  and  maintaining  her  innocence,  how  slowly  and 
wearily  time  passed,  as  they  hoped  and  prayed  for  favorable 
results  to  those  who  lingered  so  long  as  it  seemed  without 
change  in  their  condition  ! 

One-half  of  the  two  weeks  had  passed,  when  the  attorney 
of  the  accused  with  his  learned  assistant,  a  surgeon  deeply 
read  in  all  those  intricacies  of  medical  jurisprudence  and 
poisons,  with  the  legal  tests  necessary  to  discover  and  prove 
their  presence,  with  their  effects,  sure  and  unmistakable, 
upon  the  human  system,  made  a  visit  to  the  town  where  the 
sick  were  located,  to  see  and  converse  with  their  physicians 
upon  their  cases,  and  if  possible  secure  for  the  surgeon  the 
privilege  of  a  visit  to  them.  The  object  was  entirely  accom- 
plished, and  as  the  attorney  met  the  surgeon  on  his  way 
from  the  home  of  the  sick,  and  they  talked  with  each  other 
of  the  success  attending  their  errand  and  discussed  the  im- 
possibility of  proof  as  to  the  presence  of  poison  in  this 
case,  since  neither  any  portion  of  the  contents  of  the 
stomach  or  the  bowels  had  been  preserved  and  analyzed, 
they  were  insensible  of  the  imminent  danger  through  which 
the  attorney  was  passing.  They  had  just  reached  the  hotel 
at  which  they  were  entertained,  when  a  friend,  greatly 
excited,  called  to  advise  Mr.  Langston  that  there  was  a 
deal  of  feeling  in  the  community  existing  against  him,  in 
view  of  the  fact  that  he  had  been  retained  to  defend  the 
person  charged  with  the  poisoning.  This  person  insisted 
that  his  protracted  stay  in  the  town  would  doubtless  provoke 


176       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

attack  upon  him,  and  counselled  his  immediate  departure. 
He  thereupon  declared  that  already  the  father  of  the  young- 
lady  at  whose  home  both  of  the  sick  were  being  cared  for, 
had,  as  he  and  the  surgeon  passed  his  grocery-store  on  their 
way  to  the  hotel,  levelled  his  rifle  upon  Mr.  Langston  and 
taking  deadly  aim,  announcing  his  purpose  to  shoot  him, 
fired,  being  prevented  from  executing  his  purpose  only  by 
the  interference  of  a  by-stander,  who,  appreciating  the  situa- 
tion, touched  the  gun  as  fired,  throwing  the  barrel  upward, 
and  thus  lodged  the  load  in  the  upper  facing  of  the  front 
door  of  the  store.  Thus  advised,  and  wise  enough  to  feel 
the  importance  of  useless  exposure  in  an  excited  and  irate 
community,  the  attorney  and  surgeon  having  accomplished 
their  errand,  and  rejoicing  that  Mr.  Langston  had  not  been 
shot,  in  some  little  hurry  left  Birmingham  with  their 
sprightly  team  for  Oberlin. 

And  now,  at  the  end  of  three  weeks,  the  people  of  Ober- 
lin already  profoundly  stirred  by  the  reports  connected  with 
this  case  of  supposed  poisoning,  and  those  connected  with 
the  condition  of  its  subjects,  were  moved  to  the  depths  of 
their  feelings  by  a  circumstance  which  was  regarded  by  all 
as  most  remarkable.  The  party  charged  with  the  poison- 
ing had  not  been  arrested.  Indeed,  no  proceedings  of  a 
legal  character  had  been  instituted  against  her.  Her  arrest, 
however,  was  expected  daily,  and  she  and  her  friends  had 
taken  what  they  deemed  to  be  in  view  of  such  probability, 
all  proper  steps  with  regard  to  her  counsel  and  defence. 
One  evening,  just  after'dark,  as  she  was  passing  out  of  the 
back  door  of  the  house  in  which  she  still  roomed,  she  was 
seized  by  unknown  persons,  carried  out  into  the  field  lying 
to  the  rear,  and  after  being  severely  beaten,  with  her  clothes 
and  jewelry  torn  from  her  person  and  scattered  here  and 
there,  she  was  left  in  a  dark,  obscure  place  to  die.  The 
moment  her  absence  was  discovered,  the  household  and  the 
town  were  thrown  into  the  deepest  excitement  and  conster- 
nation. The  bells  were  tolled  !  The  cry  was  heard  all 
through  the  town  that  —  —  had  been  kidnapped  !  This 

was  enough  to  bring  the  whole   community  in  its  wildest 


AN  INTERESTING  CASE.  177 

feeling  about  the  house  where  this  young  woman  lived,  and 
the  face  of  everyone  was  aglow  with  anxiety,  while  the 
questions  were  multiplied  as  they  concerned  her  wherea- 
bouts and  condition.  Finally  someone  proposed  that 
search  with  lanterns  be  made  in  the  open  field  to  the  rear, 
a  part  of  the  premises.  After  long,  careful,  but  at  first 
fruitless  quest,  she  was  found  in  the  condition  already  de- 
scribed. But  the  whole  story  of  her  condition  is  not  told, 
till  it  be  said  that  her  bodily  injuries  were  very  serious,  so 
crippling  her  that  she  was  confined  to  her  room  for  several 
days  and  then  was  not  able  to  move  about  except  as  she 
did  so  on  crutches.  Her  arrest  took  place  within  a  few 
days  after  this  occurrence,  when  Mr.  Langston,  her  attorney, 
appearing  for  her,  represented  her  condition,  and  upon  his 
pledge  and  guarantee  that  she  should  appear  according  to 
the  demands  of  the  law  so  soon  as  able,  delay  in  the  trial 
was  granted.  And  when  the  case  was  called,  she  was  car- 
ried into  court  in  the  arms  of  her  friends. 

No  case  ever  tried  in  Oberlin  or  originating  in  that  com- 
munity, had  produced  such  popular  feeling  as  this.  The 
community,  deeply  stirred  as  it  was,  was  about  equally 
divided  upon  the  question  of  innocence  or  guilt.  Many 
were  prejudiced  against  the  accused  on  account  of  her 
color.  The  major  part  of  the  colored  people  themselves, 
largely  because  of  her  easy  and  rather  unusual  social  rela- 
tions to  the  whites,  were  ready  and  did  pronounce  her 
guilty  in  advance.  Some  of  the  colored  class  even  went  so 
far  as  to  ask  Mr.  Langston  whether  he  would  defend  her, 
while  an  aged  lady  among  them  expressing  their  feeling  in 
a  general  way,  told  him  that  he  had  better  not  attempt 
such  thing.  This  counsel  however  was  given  to  a  lawyer 
who  understood  too  well  his  duty  to  a  human  being  who 
needed  defence  against  a  grave  charge,  even  where  the 
community  was  stirred  and  excited,  to  let  any  such  influ- 
ence disturb  or  control  his  professional  action.  To  him  the 
rule  stood  good — let  the  world  be  shaken,  but  the  lawyer 
shall  never  neglect  nor  forsake  the  performance  of  that 
duty  which  he  owes  to  a  client !  The  attorney  of  her 


1 78       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

choice  betook  himself  therefore  to  the  labor  of  her  defence 
earnestly  and  faithfully,  and  on  the  day  when  the  case  was 
called  for  hearing,  with  four  of  the  ablest  lawyers  of  the 
district  appearing  to  prosecute,  with  full  complement  of 
witnesses  to  sustain  the  accusation,  popular  feeling  running 
high  in  its  favor,  before  a  large,  excited  concourse  of  people 
assembled  in  the  most  capacious  business-room  of  the  town, 
the  court  doubly  reinforced,  with  all  things  now  ready  for  a 
judicial  contest  of  matchless  character  and  gravest  import 
to  all  concerned,  Mr.  Langston  appeared,  assisted  only  by 
his  clerk  and  accompanied  by  his  surgeon,  single-handed 
and  alone  so  far  as  professional  support  was  concerned, 
ready  for  what  was  to  be  the  effort  of  his  life.  His  appear- 
ance and  bearing  showed  beyond  doubt  his  willingness, 
even  anxiety  to  enter  the  judicial  arena  and  contest  without 
the  least  fear,  in  defiance  of  every  danger.  The  case  was 
called,  and  his  answer  for  the  defence  was  round,  full  and 
commanding.  The  State  had  adduced  its  first  witness  ;  she 
had  been  examined  with  all  the  skill  and  care  which  the 
prosecuting  attorney  of  the  county  up  to  his  last  question 
could  command,  when  addressing  the  sole  attorney  on  the 
part  of  the  defence,  he  triumphantly  said,  "  Take  the  wit. 
ness"  He  had  made  a  fatal  mistake.  His  last  question 
made  it  possible  for  the  opposing  counsel  to  enter  with  the 
largest  liberty  a  field  of  defence,  in  such  manner  and  with 
such  effect  as  to  give  him  the  mastery  from  the  very  begin- 
ning. He  did  not  fail  to  seize  this  advantage  and  maintain 
it,  not  only  in  the  cross-examination  of  the  first  witness,  but 
to  the  very  end  of  the  trial,  magnifying  and  emphasizing  its 
effects  as  bearing  upon  the  question  of  guilt  or  innocence, 
in  the  light  of  any  rule  of  law  which  might.be  accepted  by 
the  court  in  its  decision.  Four  days  had  been  occupied  in 
the  examination  and  cross-examination  of  the  witnesses 
testifying  for  the  State,  and  the  learned  lawyers  represent- 
ing the  Commonwealth  had  rested.  The  court  suggested  to 
the  attorney  for  the  defendant  that  he  might  proceed  with 
the  examination  of  his  witnesses.  But  to  the  surprise  of 
all  seemingly  in  attendance,  the  attorney  instead  of  intro- 


AN  INTERESTING  CASE.  179 

ducing  testimony,  moved  the  court  that  the  proceedings,  so 
far  as  his  client  was  concerned,  be  dismissed,  since  no  such 
evidence  as  was  required  by  law  had  been  adduced,  justify- 
ing the  holding  of  the  defendant  to  answer  further  in  that 
court  or  before  the  grand  jury.  He  claimed  that  the  corpus 
delicti  had  not  been  proved,  and  that  no  such  proof  of 
probable  guilt  had  been  shown  as  to  justify  the  detention 
of  the  defendant  for  further  investigation  or  trial.  To  the 
question  here  involved  two  days  were  given  to  earnest  and 
eloquent  arguments,  pro  and  con,  such  as  it  had  not  been 
the  good  fortune  of  the  court  or  the  people  to  hear  before. 
The  learned  attorneys  who  representated  the  State  dis- 
played all  the  ability,  tact  and  eloquence  of  which  they 
were  masters,  and  to  say  that  they  were  ingenious,  able  and 
powerful  is  only  to  put  the  representation  of  their  conduct 
under  the  circumstances  in  too  faint  colors.  Finally,  when 
the  State  had  made  its  last  argument,  the  prosecuting 
attorney  closing  his  lengthy,  admirable  address  amid  the 
plaudits  of  his  associates  and  a  large  proportion  of  the 
people,  after  an  adjournment  of  thirty  minutes  Mr.  Lang- 
ston  was  permitted  to  make  his  closing  argument  in  support 
of  his  motion.  His  argument,  whose  delivery  occupied  all 
of  six  full  hours,  as  his  friends  and  the  journals  claimed  at 
the  time,  was  replete  with  learning  upon  the  subjects 
involved,  addressed  with  the  greatest  care  and  skill  to  the 
court,  clear,  forcible  and  effective,  from  first  to  last  com- 
manding the  closest  attention,  and  at  times  moving  all  who 
heard  it  to  tears,  with  manifestations,  even  to  outbursts,  of 
the  deepest  feeling.  The  end  came,  and  the  orphan, 
friendless  young  colored  woman  as  many  called  her,  who 
had  been  accused,  perhaps  without  reason,  and  thus  out- 
raged without  cause,  was  carried  in  the  arms  of  her  excited 
associates  and  fellow-students  from  the  court  room,  to 
which  she  had  been  brought  a  criminal  in  popular  esteem, 
to  her  home,  fully  vindicated  in  her  character  and  name. 
Now  matured  in  all  those  qualities  of  extraordinary  genius 
and  power,  the  young  colored  woman  who  was  thus  repre- 
sented by  the  then  young  colored  lawyer  of  Ohio,  has 


i8o       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

reached  such  exalted  place  in  American  and  European  con- 
sideration, that  she  has  been  very  justly  termed  the  first 
artist  of  the  negro  race  of  the  Western  continent.  Her 
works  of  art  as  displayed  in  marble,  tell  now  how  wisely 
and  well  her  attorney  labored  in  her  case  to  vindicate  jus- 
tice and  innocence  ! 

The  expressions  of  admiration,  compliment  and  praise, 
bestowed  verbally  and  by  letter,  as  well  as  in  the  journals 
of  the  day,  upon  Mr.  Langston,  in  view  of  his  conduct  of 
this  case  and  the  results  following  it,  were  numerous,  cordial 
and  flattering.  As  expressing  the  change  which  came  over 
the  colored  people  through  the  results  of  the  case,  it  is  due 
that  it  be  stated  that  the  excellent  aged  colored  woman 
who  warned  Mr.  Langston  that  he  had  better  not  attempt  the 

defence  of ,  honored  him,  in  view  of  his  fidelity  and 

success,  with  a  dinner  in  her  own  home,  distinguished  as 
well  for  the  number  and  character  of  her  guests  as  the  rich- 
ness and  abundance  of  the  repast.  Another  noteworthy 
incident,  showing  the  change  wrought  by  the  address  of  Mr. 
Langston  and  the  acquittal  of  his  client,  which  may  not  be 
omitted  here,  concerns  the  conduct  of  Prof.  John  Clark,  a 
white  gentleman  coming  from  the  South,  at  the  time  resid- 
ing with  his  family  in  Oberlin.  He  had  given  constant  and 
unflagging  attention  to  every  movement  made  and  every 
word  uttered  during  the  trial.  For  the  entire  time  of  Mr. 
Langston's  address,  he  fixed  his  eyes  upon  him,  being  so 
carried  at  times  by  his  expositions  of  the  law  as  to  nod  his 
assent  thereto ;  and,  at  other  times,  borne  on  by  his  flights 
of  eloquence  and  moved  by  his  appeals,  he  wept,  as  if 
affected  to  the  very  center  of  his  being.  With  the  tears 
suffusing  his  cheeks  as  Mr  Langston  closed  his  address, 
deeply  excited,  he  approached  him,  saying  only,  "  My  orator! 
My  orator ! "  And  so  thereafter  this  good  man  whenever 
he  met  the  attorney,  discovered  in  his  address  and  conduct 
his  exalted  appreciation  of  him. 


CHAPTER  XIV. 

THOSE      SIGNAL     OCCURRENCES     WHICH     WROUGHT      FOR 
FREEDOM. 

LOCATED  as  already  described,  the  family  of  Mr.  Lang- 
ston  increased  from  one  child  to  five,  three  sons  and  two 
daughters.  The  boys  were  Arthur,  Ralph  and  Frank,  and 
the  girls  Chinque  and  Nettie.  But  the  family  had  no 
sooner  settled  in  Oberlin,  than  three  sons,  the  children  of  a 
Louisiana  planter  of  great  wealth,  a  white  father  who 
would  educate  his  colored  offspring,  were  brought  to  school 
and  placed  in  Mr.  Langston's  care  and  taken  into  his  home. 
Quickly  thereafter,  there  came  a  young  boy  from  Africa, 
who  was  similarly  situated.  These  children  remained  thus 
located,  until  they  had  reached  young  manhood,  and  com- 
pleted their  respective  courses  of  study.  Meantime,  his 
own  had  reached  school  age,  except  sweet  little  Chinque, 
who  died  early  when  only  two  and  a  half  years  old,  and 
Frank,  the  youngest  of  all,  too  young  to  be  sent  to  school. 
The  family  was  also  increased  in  its  numbers  by  the  acces- 
sion of  several  young  ladies,  students  of  Oberlin  College, 
whom  Mrs.  Langston  had  consented,  to  take  and  care  for 
as  her  own  friends  and  relatives — in  fact  her  own  sister  was 
one  of  the  number.  Thus  constituted,  the  family  took  its 
place  in  the  society  of  the  town,  and  as  opportunity  per- 
mitted contributed  its  full  share  to  its  general  prosperity, 
happiness  and  good  name.  To  say  that  by  reason  of  its 
situation  and  the  character  of  the  father  and  mother  it  was 
181 


1 82       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

prominent  and  influential  in  the  community  as  respects  all 
classes  of  the  people  and  all  its  social  interests,  is  simply  to 
assert  the  truth.  And  in  the  college,  in  the  schools,  in  the 
church,  everywhere,  as  regarded  every  enterprise  for  the  gen- 
eral good,  its  efforts  and  means  were  always  given  liberally 
and  promptly,  according  to  the  full  measure  of  its  ability. 

During  this  time  Mr.  Langston  gave  diligent  care  to  his 
business,  which  constantly  increased,  becoming  more  and 
more  important  and  lucrative.  The  demands,  however, 
upon  his  time  and  services  in  other  directions  and  for 
other  purposes,  multiplied  and  became  more  imperative 
and  exacting.  The  time  seemed  now  to  have  arrived 
when  the  great  and  wonderful  things  of  the  age  were  to 
take  place,  and  every  man  was  to  be  called  to  his  post  of 
responsibility  and  duty.  The  time  for  excuses  appeared  to 
have  passed,  and  every  real  and  faithful  defender  of  truth, 
freedom  and  the  general  welfare,  was  called  to  bring  his 
best  and  most  sacred  offering  to  the  government,  whose 
life  must  be  saved,  even  though  it  be  done  in  the  death  of 
all  else,  however  valued  !  Destruction  was  threatened  and 
the  danger  was  at  hand !  The  frowning,  angry  face  of 
slavery,  its  terror-inspiring  mien,  its  words  of  frightful,  hor- 
rid wrong  and  direful  woes  awaiting  all,  sent  thrills  of  dis- 
may through  every  loyal  heart,  serving  under  an  allwise 
Providence  to  nerve  every  true  devoted  son  for  the  last 
desperate  contest  which  must  witness  the  salvation  of 
Amercian  liberty,  or  its  utter  overthrow,  in  blood  !  The 
struggle  came  on  apace,  but  only  as  the  public  mind  was 
prepared  for  it  through  those  premonitory,  informing  and 
prophetic  events,  which  presaged  and  preceded  its  terrible 
approaching  shock.  Among  such  events,  with  their  con- 
spicuous originators  and  promoters,  must  be  numbered  and 
given  chief  place,  the  Oberlin-Wellington  Rescue,  the  Har- 
per's Ferry  Movement,  and  the  Declaration  of  Free  Princi- 
ples, with  the  organization  and  institution  of  a  national 
party  to  give  them  practical  significance. 

Apprehensions  and  fears  had  been  excited  all  over  the 
North,  especially  in  Oberlin  and  upon  the  Western  Reserve, 


OCCURRENCES  WHICH  WROUGHT  FOR  FREEDOM.  183 

where  thousands  of  fugitive  slaves  had  settled,  in  view  of  the 
enactment  of  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law  of  1850,  with  its  utter 
demolition  of  every  safeguard  of  personal  liberty,  including 
the  habeas  corpus  and  the  trial  by  jury.  It  was  not,  how- 
ever, until  the  spring  of  1858,  that  rumors  were  heard  in 
Oberlin,  the  very  citadel  of  human  freedom,  and  alarm  was 
created  by  the  presence  of  negro-catchers  from  Kentucky 
and  other  neighboring  Southern  States,  who  were  prowling 
in  stealth  and  disguise  about  this  holy  place  in  search  of 
their  fleeing  property.  The  quick-scented  fugitive  himself, 
awake  to  his  danger,  was  the  first  to  learn  and  report  this 
condition  of  things ;  wisely  making  himself  at  the  same 
time  attentive  to  the  observance  of  all  the  precautions 
required  for  his  safety,  under  the  circumstances.  At  once 
he  manifested  due  care  as  to  his  movements  in  the  night- 
time, and  as  to  any  distant  trips  to  be  made  by  him  into 
neighboring  country  places  for  work  or  pleasure.  He 
showed  his  anxiety,  too,  in  his  conversations  with  his 
friends,  as  he  sought  knowledge  of  his  legal  condition  ;  and 
in  his  prayers,  as  he  asked  God  to  grant  him  His  protection, 
with  earnestness  and  faith  which  were  indeed  marvelous. 
He  prayed  as  well  for  his  friends,  upon  whom  he  must 
depend,  craving  for  them  such  wisdom,  courage  and  cun- 
ning as  would  render  them  equal  to  the  task  of  his  protec- 
tion and  salvation,  without  harm  to  themselves  or  injury  to 
their  households.  How  earnest,  heart-touching  and  mov- 
ing were  his  prayers  as  they  implored  the  Mighty  Jehovah, 
who  had  emancipated  the  Israelites  as  they  believed 
through  Moses,  their  own  son,  to  save  them  against  all 
treachery  and  infidelity  of  their  own  numbers.  The  words 
of  John  Ramsey,  one  of  the  leading  representatives  of  this 
class,  as  he  prayed  in  a  public  meeting,  asking  God  that 
there  might  be  found  among  them  no  Judas,  faithless  and 
false,  still  ring  in  the  ears  and  stir  the  feelings  of  everyone 
who  heard  him. 

But  the  spring  and  summer  had  passed  in  Oberlin,  with 
even  the  first  month  of  the  autumn  quite  half  spent,  before 
the  expected  attack,  so  greatly  feared,  was  attempted  upon 


1 84   FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

any  one  of  the  poor,  anxious,  trembling  slaves,  who  had 
sought  their  freedom  in  flight,  and  tarried  in  that  goodly 
town.  And,  then,  this  attempt  was  made,  not  in  bold 
appropriate  execution  of  the  law,  but  through  the  treachery 
of  a  young  white  man,  who  was  base  enough  to  betray  a 
fellow-being  for  pay,  into  the  hands  of  those  who  would 
capture  and  re-slave  him.  This  base  person  would  do  more. 
He  would  humiliate  and  disgrace,  if  possible,  a  whole  com- 
munity of  good  and  true  people,  whose  devotion  to  God, 
humanity  and  freedom  was  proverbial  in  the  highest  and  best 
sense.  This  he  would  do  to  the  community  of  his  birth, 
the  home  of  his  parents  and  kin,  and  in  whose  midst  he 
might  and  ought  to  have  sought  just  title  to  respect,  ability 
and  influence.  The  thirteenth  day  of  September  had 
come !  No  day  in  the  calendar  shall  remain  forever,  so  far 
as  the  history  of  Oberlin  is  concerned,  more  memorable. 
On  the  one  part,  in  view  of  the  deep  darkness  of  shame 
which  covers  it  in  the  betrayal  of  John  Price,  it  can  never  be 
forgotten.  On  the  other  hand,  in  view  of  the  glory  which 
immortalizes  it,  in  the  rescue  and  emancipation  of  the  same 
man  by  the  noble  and  brave  community  which  had  given 
him  and  all  his  class  succor  and  protection,  and  now 
redeemed  its  principles  and  professions  in  a  single  great 
deed,  whose  name  and  description  deserve  to  be  written  in 
the  boldest,  the  brightest  characters,  it  shall  live  in  eternal 
sunshine ! 

On  this  day,  among  five  hundred  others,  who  acting  under 
the  impulse  of  their  higher  and  better  nature  went  out  from 
Oberlin  to  rescue  a  human  being  from  negro-catchers,  was 
Mr.  Charles  H.  Langston,  who  was  at  the  time  making  a 
brief  visit  to  the  family  of  his  brother.  This  brother  had 
been  called  on  that  very  day  by  a  professioual  engagement 
to  a  neighboring  county.  At  sunset  he  returned  home  to 
find  neither  life  nor  stir  in  or  about  the  village.  The  whole 
town  seemed  to  have  gone  abroad.  Upon  inquiry  he 
learned  that  a  man  had  been  kidnapped  and  hurried  away  to 
Wellington,  where  the  train  could  be  taken  for  Columbus, 
Cincinnati  and  Kentucky.  He  further  learned  that  the 


OCCURRENCES  WHICH  WROUGHT  FOR  FREEDOM.   185 

people,  in  the  purpose  and  resolution  as  it  were  of  a  single 
fearless  giant,  had  gone  forth  to  his  delivery.  He  accord- 
ingly hurried  on  to  the  scene  of  action,  hoping  that  he 
might  arrive  in  time  to  play  some  humble  part  in  this  drama 
of  genuine  manhood  and  courage.  He  had  not  gone,  how- 
ever, more  than  four  and  a  half  miles,  before  he  met  one  of 
the  brave  sons  of  Oberlin  returning  with  the  rescued  fugi- 
tive, John  Price,  ordinarily  so  black,  but  now,  as  seen  under 
the  intensest  excitement,  in  a  buggy  drawn  by  the  fleetest 
and  most  spirited  animal  of  the  county,  moving  at  the  top 
of  her  speed,  he  was  light  as  ashes.  Simeon  Bushnell, 
proud  of  his  triumph,  bade  Mr.  Langston  to  come  back, 
saying,  "  John  is  safe  ;  here  he  is  ;  I  have  him.  Come  back  !  " 
At  first  Mr.  Langston  was  inclined  to  obey  the  order  and 
return,  but  overcome  of  a  desire  to  meet  the  multitude, 
now  victorious,  and  return  with  them,  he  pressed  on.  But, 
within  a  moment  or  two,  he  met  both  his  brother  and  his 
brother-in-law  Mr.  O.  S.  B.  Wall,  who  in  blended  voices  bade 
him  return.  Now  the  roads  were  crowded  with  the  return- 
ing hosts,  shouting,  singing,  rejoicing  in  the  glad  results  of 
their  brave,  defiant,  successful  enterprise.  In  the  midst  of 
such  a  company,  enthusiastic,  happy  in  a  victory  won  by 
them  in  the  name  of  Freedom,  it  seemed  to  occupy  but  a 
moment  to  pass  five  miles,  through  Pittsfield  and  Russia 
Townships,  to  Oberlin,  where  a  vast  concourse  of  true  and 
patriotic  men  and  women  awaited  the  arrival  of  their  neigh- 
bors and  fellow-townsmen,  to  join  them  in  such  a  meeting  in 
favor  of  freedom  and  against  slavery,  as  had  never  assem- 
bled within  the  limits  of  that  consecrated  town.  Speeches 
in  denunciation  of  slavery,  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law,  slave- 
holders, and  all  those  who  sympathized  with  and  would  aid 
them,  were  made  at  this  great  and  wonderful  gathering. 
The  pledge  of  the  community  was  there  given,  in  gravest, 
most  solemn  manner,  that  no  fugitive  slave  should  ever  be 
taken  from  Oberlin  and  returned  to  his  enslavement. 
Among  other  orators  heard  on  this  memorable  occasion,  was 
Mr.  John  M.  Langston.  What  he  had  failed  to  accomplish 
in  deeds  on  that  eventful  day,  he  attempted  to  reach  and 


1 86       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

redeem  in  words,  both  truthful  and  wise,  while  fiery  and 
denunciatory  of  slavery,  its  dark  and  frightful  methods  and 
supporters. 

The  days  passed  rapidly  thereafter,  and  very  soon  the 
grand  jury  of  the  United  States  Court  for  the  Northern 
District  of  Ohio  had  found  bills  of  indictment  against  thirty- 
seven  prominent  and  influential  citizens,  white  and  colored, 
of  Lorain  County,  charged  with  aiding  and  abetting  in  the 
rescue  of  John  Price.  A  curious  fact  connected  with  the 
personnel  of  this  grand  jury  is  found  in  the  circumstance 
that  the  father  of  the  white  boy  who  betrayed  the  fugitive 
was  a  member  of  it.  The  son  betrays,  and  the  father 
indicts!  Shakespear  Boynton,  the  former,  and  Lewis  D. 
Boynton,  the  latter,  may  enjoy,  forever,  the  bad  eminence  of 
such  conduct.  Judas  Iscariot  betrayed  his  master,  and,  in 
his  deep  consciousness  of  guilt  and  shame,  went  out  and 
hanged  himself !  These  others  betrayed  this  poor,  ignorant, 
helpless  slave,  but  they  found  in  themselves  no  sense  of 
guilt  or  shame,  driving  them  to  a  deed  of  self-destruction, 
in  the  perpetration  of  which  they  might  have  very  properly 
imitated  their  great  prototype  in  treachery !  Prominent 
among  these  rescuers  was  Mr.  Charles  H.  Langston.  No 
thanks  to  the  authorities  that  his  brother  was  not,  also,  in- 
dicted and  held  for  trial.  The  most  desperate  efforts  were 
made  to  compass  that  end,  and  proved  fruitless  only  in  that  he 
was  out  of  the  county,  engaged  in  public  law  business,  and 
not  even  in  Oberlin,  certainly  not  in  Wellington,  when  the 
rescue  was  made.  At  first  the  thirty-seven  accused  persons 
were  permitted  to  make  their  pleas,  and  then  give  their  own 
personal  recognizances  for  their  appearance  for  trial.  Subse- 
quently, however,  they  all  by  some  misunderstanding  with 
the  court,  to  maintain  their  personal  dignity  and  conscious- 
ness of  self-respect,  and  to  show  the  utter  tyranical,  oppress- 
ive operation  of  the  law,  refused  their  recognizances  and 
were  confined  in  the  Cleveland  jail.  Two  only  were  put 
upon  trial.  Both,  of  course,  were  convicted  ;  for  the  trial 
jury  was  organized  and  constituted  to  convict,  and  it  did  its 
work  according  to  appointment.  Simeon  Bushnell  was  tried 


OCCURRENCES  WHICH  WROUGHT  FOR  FREEDOM.   187 

first,  and  then  Charles  H.  Langston.  These  cases  will  ever 
stand  among  the  celebrated  noted  ones  of  American  judicial 
history.  The  arguments  made  by  the  learned  attorneys 
representing  the  defendants,  distinguished  by  the  highest 
moral  tone,  the  spirit  of  the  deepest  and  broadest  sentiments 
of  right,  the  clearest  and  the  most  comprehensive  teachings 
of  liberty  and  law,  full  of  glowing  and  touching  diction, 
appeal  and  eloquence,  delivered  in  captivating,  attractive 
style  and  manner,  would  alone  give  name  and  influence 
throughout  the  country  to  the  judicial  proceedings  of 
which  they  constituted  so  important  part,  certainly  in  cases 
of  so  much  local  and  national  significance.  In  the  trial, 
however,  of  Mr.  Langston,  the  remarkable  fact  stands  out 
in  bold  relief,  that  after  his  conviction,  and  upon  the  inquiry 
of  the  court  whether  he  or  his  attorney  had  anything  to 
say  why  the  sentence  of  the  law  should  not  be  pronounced 
upon  him,  he  offered  a  reply,  a  powerful  and  matchless 
address,  wonderful  in  the  breadth  of  his  views,  masterly  and 
unanswerable  in  his  logic  and  law,  and  commanding  and 
irresistible  in  its  delivery  and  effects.  This  speech  carried 
this  case  to  the  ends  of  the  earth,  and  immortalized  not  only 
the  name  of  its  author,  but  impressed  his  sentiments  of 
liberty,  justice,  humanity,  and  sound  religious  duty,  as  illus- 
trated in  the  teachings  of  Christ,  upon  every  hearer  and 
reader  of  his  words.  The  lawyers  who  volunteered  their 
services  without  remuneration  in  behalf  of  the  defendants, 
making  masterly  efforts  in  addresses  to  the  jury  trying  the 
two  cases  mentioned,  were  Messrs.  A.  G.  Riddle,  R.  P. 
Spaulding,  F.  T.  Backus  and  S.  O.  Griswold.  In  the  cases 
of  the  parties  as  heard  in  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  State, 
upon  a  writ  of  habeas  corpus,  the  attorney-general,  Wolcott, 
acting  in  the  name  of  the  State,  presented  an  elaborate 
argument  in  behalf  of  the  defendants.  His  brother  would 
have  taken  public  part  as  one  of  his  attorneys  in  the  trial 
of  Mr.  Charles  H.  Langston,  had  it  not  been  understood 
between  them  that  he  would  make  the  speech  for  himself, 
and  in  the  interest  of  the  Abolition  cause,  at  the  time  and 
under  the  circumstances  already  described,  since  he  was, 


i88       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

without  doubt,  the  best  qualified  man  of  his  race  for  such 
service. 

The  incarceration  and  confinement  of  these  thirty-seven 
citizens  on  this  charge  in  the  prison  of  the  chief  city  of  the 
Western  Reserve,  produced  great  excitement  and  general 
comment  and  adverse  criticism  throughout  the  country. 
After  Bushnell's  trial  and  conviction,  with  Langston  simi- 
larly situated,  except  that  he  had  anticipated  his  sentence 
by  a  speech  which  thrilled  the  whole  country,  the  great 
gathering  of  a  hundred  thousand  stalwart,  loyal  men  of 
Northern  Ohio,  brought  together  through  the  influence  of 
Joshua  R.  Giddings  and  his  associates,  the  worthies  of  the 
Anti-Slavery  Movement,  was  a  natural,  inevitable  sequence 
of  the  agitation  indicated.  This  great  meeting  was  held  to 
discuss  and  determine  whether  the  jail  which  held  the 
noble,  brave  citizens,  rescuers  of  a  human  being  doomed  to 
slavery,  should  be  torn  down  and  those  friends  of  freedom 
be  themselves  set  at  liberty.  The  speeches  made  at  this 
gathering  by  the  celebrated  and  famous  anti-slavery 
orators  moved  the  nation  in  such  way  as  to  presage  to  any 
sagacious  person,  unmistakably,  the  early  overthrow  of 
American  slavery  itself.  It  had  in  its  bloody  purposes  in- 
vaded the  sanctity  of  the  rights  of  white  men,  and  they  had 
determined  now  that  the  enemy  of  their  freedom  must  die. 
In  its  death  it  was  easy  to  discover  the  approaching-  life  of 
negro  freedom.  Among  the  orators  of  this  occasion  Mr. 
John  M.  Langston  was  heard.  Of  his  speech  mention  was 
made  by  a  leading  journal  of  Cleveland  in  the  following 
words  : 

".On  being  introduced  to  the  vast  audience  he  said  that  he  hated  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  as  he  did  the  Democratic  party,  with  a  deep,  unalterable  hatred. 
He  then  went  on  with  a  clear,  noble  and  bold  utterance  of  sentiments  which 
were  clothed  in  as  eloquent  language  as  is  ever  heard  upon  the  floor  of  the 
halls  of  Congress.  The  listeners  forgot  that  he  was  a  black  man — he  spoke  a 
white  language,  such  as  few  white  men  can  speak.  He  trampled  the  Fugitive 
Slave  Law  under  his  feet,  for  it  incarcerated  his  own  brother  and  his  friends 
and  neighbors  for  disobeying  its  bloody  commands.  '  If  you  hate  slavery  be- 
cause it  oppresses  the  black  man  in  the  Southern  States,  for  God's  sake  hate 
it  for  its  enslavement  of  white  men.  Don't  say  it  is  confined  to  the  South- 
here  it  is  on  our  neighbors  and  citizens,  and  shall  we  say  that  slavery  does  not 


OCCURRENCES  WHICH  WROUGHT  FOR  FREEDOM.   189 

affect  us  ?  As  we  love  our  friends,  as  we  love  our  God-given  rigkts,  as  we  love 
our  homes,  as  we  love  ourselves,  as  we  love  our  God,  let  us  this  afternoon 
swear  eternal  enmity  to  this  law.  Exhaust  the  law  first  for  these  men,  but 
if  this  fail,  for  God's  sake  let  us  fall  back  upon  our  own  natural  rights  and  say 
to  the  prison  walls  "  come  down,"  and  set  these  men  at  liberty.'  "  [Cheers.] 

No  violence  was  attempted  at  this  meeting;  for  while  the 
people  were  deeply  moved,  they  were  dominated  by  just 
and  patriotic  convictions  and  purposes.  The  governor  of 
the  State,  Hon.  Salmon  P.  Chase,  appeared  among  them 
and  gave  his  assurance  that  by  judicial  and  legal  methods 
the  release  of  the  prisoners  should  be  secured  within  a  rea- 
sonable time.  All  placed  confidence  in  that  assurance,  for 
they  knew  the  man  who  made  it  and  felt  and  believed  that 
his  word  was  worthy  of  entire  confidence.  After  full,  earn- 
est and  positive  announcement  of  their  feelings,  judgment 
and  purposes  against  the  law  and  all  proceedings  under  it 
which  aimed  its  deadly  blows  at  American  liberty  itself, 
they  in  orderly,  quiet  manner  returned  to  their  various 
homes.  The  moral  effects  of  the  meeting  remained,  work- 
ing those  inevitable  results  which  must  be  established  in 
the  interest  of  general  freedom.  The  governor  kept  his 
promise  to  the  people,  and  very  shortly  thereafter  the 
habeas  corpus  proceedings  already  referred  to  were  instituted 
and  the  State  Government  was  heard  in  such  behalf  by 
the  learned  attorney-general,  whose  exhaustless  argument 
abounded  in  the  fundamental  law  doctrines  and  principles 
justly  invoked  in  aid  of  the  personal  liberty  of  the  citizens 
against  the  tyranny  and  oppression  which  sought  the  over- 
throw of  their  rights.  The  Supreme  Court  of  the  State  failing 
to  sustain  these  proceedings,  it  was  left  for  the  Common 
Pleas  Court  of  Lorain  County  to  come  to  the  rescue  of  its 
citizens  in  a  charge  to  the  grand  jury  which,  resulting  in  the 
indictment  of  all  those  concerned  in  the  capture  of  John  Price 
for  kidnapping  him,  soon  brought  an  end  to  further  pro- 
ceedings against  any  one  of  the  citizens  still  held  for  trial 
under  the  National  Act  and  the  release  of  them  all. 
Thus  by  a  counter  proceeding  which  would  open  the  doors 
of  the  state  penitentiary  to  the  perpetrators  of  such  kid- 
13 


190       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

napping  the  proceedings  of  the  United  States  District 
Court  for  Northern  Ohio,  so  far  as  the  Oberlin-Wellington 
Rescuers  were  concerned,  were  brought  to  a  close.  All 
thanks  to  Judge  Carpenter  for  his  sound  law  and  fearless, 
opportune  charge  !  The  counter  indictments  found  in  his 
court  upon  which  arrests  would  be  made  and  trials  insti- 
tuted against  the  Kentucky  kidnappers,  ended  the  most  stu- 
pendous, unjustifiable  and  outrageous  proceeding  ever 
presented  and  prosecuted  against  any  American  citizens. 
At  last  the  Higher  Law  was  triumphant !  On  the  6th  day 
of  July,  1859,  tne  great  Oberlin  Jubilee  meeting  was  held. 
The  Rescuers  were  all  at  home  again  and  their  friends  and 
neighbors  would  join  them  in  grateful  celebration  of  their 
release  finally,  through  the  just  vindication  of  the  law. 
The  speeches  made  on  this  occasion  in  the  main  by  those 
who  had  been  confined,  were  of  a  most  interesting  and  in- 
spiring character,  full  of  the  warmest  sentiments  of  freedom, 
with  the  declared  willingness  to  suffer  even  greater  things 
to  maintain  the  right.  They  moved  and  melted  while  they 
nerved  with  manly  purpose  every  heart  of  the  vast  audience 
which  had  brought  its  offerings  of  praise  and  thanks  to  the 
good  men  who  had  thus  been  deemed  worthy  of  suffering 
and  made  victors.  Owing  to  the  absence  of  his  brother,  Mr. 
John  M.  Langston  spoke  at  this  time  in  response  to  re- 
peated urgent  calls.  Of  his  speech  a  leading  journal  of 
that  date  makes  the  following  comments  : 

"  In  his  characteristic  bold  eloquence  he  spoke  fearless  and  startling  words 
in  opposition  to  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law.  He  paid  a  high  and  proud  tribute  to 
the  speech  of  his  brother  in  the  United  States  Court,  which  was  received  with 
loud  applause.  He  thanked  his  noble  friends  who  had  gone  up  to  Cuyahoga 
County  jail — thanked  them  in  his  character  as  a  negro — as  a  white  man — as 
one  in  whom  the  blood  of  both  races  joined — as  a  man — and  as  an  American 
citizen.  We  wished  that  the  wide  world  could  have  seen  him  standing  there, 
pouring  forth  in  clarion  notes  his  noble,  manlike  and  godlike  thoughts.  No 
more  eloquent  speech  was  made  yesterday  than  his." 

It  was  on  the  i6th  day  of  October,  1859, that  Jolin  Brown 
with  a  handful  of  faithful  and  loyal  followers  surprised 
Harper's  Ferry  by  his  attack  and  capture  of  the  Arsenal  and 
Armory.  Three  days  only,  prior  to  this  occurrence,  Mr. 


OCCURRENCES  WHICH  WROUGHT  FOR  FREEDOM.   191 

Langston  was  visited,  at  his  office  and  home,  in  Oberlin,  by 
a  person  who  gave  his  name  as  John  Thomas.  At  the 
time,  Air.  Langston  was  engaged  actively  in  the  practice  of 
his  profession.  This  visit  did  not  work,  in  any  wise,  special 
interest  or  surprise,  as  strangers  were  constantly  calling  for 
business  or  other  purposes,  and  as  in  this  case,  were 
always  willing  to  adjust  themselves  and  their  demands  to 
his  situation.  At  the  moment  of  this  call,  the  attorney  was 
engaged  in  a  pressing  important  consultation.  Mr.  Thomas 
retired,  promising  to  call  again  at  twelve  o'clock,  noon,  of 
the  same  day,  saying  at  the  same  time  that  he  might  ac- 
company Mr.  Langston  to  his  house,  as  he  went  to  dinner. 
At  twelve  o'clock,  precisely,  he  returned.  He  said,  "  I  know 
this  is  your  dinner  hour,  according  to  the  rules  of  this  com- 
munity. If  you  please,  I  will  walk  with  you  homeward, 
and  we  can  talk  as  we  go."  Setting  out,  their  conversation 
ran  on  general  matters,  until  they  had  gone  considerable 
distance  eastward  in  College  Street,  when  the  gentleman, 
putting  his  hand  gently  upon  Mr.  Langston's  shoulder, 
while  he  looked  him  squarely  in  the  face  and  eyes,  inquired, 
"Am  I  really  addressing  John  M.  Langston?"  The  reply 
came  at  once,  and  positively,  "  You  are  !  "  "  Then,"  said  he, 
"  I  will  give  you  my  real  name.  So  far,  I  have  not  done  so. 
My  name  is  not  Thomas.  It  is  John  Brown,  Jr.,  and  I  have 
called  to  see  you  upon  matters  strictly  secret  and  confiden- 
tial, and  which  must  not  be  committed  to  anyone  in  whom 
we  may  not  place  the  fullest  confidence.  My  father  is  John 
Brown  of  Ossawatomie,  who  proposes  to  strike  at  an  early 
day,  a  blow  which  shall  shake  and  destroy  American  slavery 
itself.  For  this  purpose  we  need,  and  I  seek  to  secure, 
men  of  nerve  and  courage.  On  this  whole  subject  I  desire 
to  talk  freely  with  you,  and  secure  your  services  at  least  to 
the  extent  of  aiding  us  with  your  knowledge  and  advice  in 
securing  one  or  more  men."  By  this  time  Mr.  Brown  was 
entering  the  gate,  having  just  been  invited  by  Mr.  Langston 
to  go  into  his  house,  where  full  and  thorough  conference 
might  be  had  after  dinner  upon  the  subject  named.  Ulti- 
mately, Mr.  Brown  retired  with  his  host  to  his  parlor,  where 


192       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

full  statement  of  the  purposes  of  his  father  with  regard  to 
the  Harper's  Ferry  Movement  and  his  own  mission  to  Ober- 
lin,  was  made.  He  wished  to  see  Mr.  Langston,  and,  if 
possible,  through  him  find  and  influence  any  men  willing 
and  ready  to  join  in  the  enterprise,  and,  if  need  be,  die  in 
connection  therewith,  in  an  attempt  to  free  the  American 
slave.  He  had  visited  Mr.  Langston,  as  he  said,  because  it 
was  well  understood  that  he  was  utterly  opposed  to  slavery  ; 
that  no  fugitive  slave  had  ever  come,  in  search  of  his  free- 
dom, within  his  reach,  who  had  not  received  promptly  and 
fully  his  aid  and  succor ;  that  his  influence  among  white 
and  colored  persons  who  were  earnest  in  their  purposes  to 
promote  the  Abolition  Movement,  even  in  the  sacrifice  of 
property  and  life,  was  large  and  positive  ;  that  he  sympathized 
with  his  brother  Charles  and  the  thirty-six  noble  white  and 
colored  men  who  had  been  imprisoned  long  weary  months 
in  the  Cleveland  jail,  for  their  disinterested,  manly  conduct, 
in  the  rescue  of  John  Price,  his  relations  to  that  case  hav- 
ing been  decided  and  aggressive  ;  and  that  he  so  far  enjoyed 
the  respect  and  confidence  of  all  persons,  white  or  colored, 
living  anywhere  in  the  State  of  Ohio,  that  he  would  be  likely 
to  know  of  anyone  of  such  classes  who  could  be  induced 
by  proper  representations  to  leave  even  home  and  family, 
to  strike  and  die  for  the  American  bondman.  It  was  at 
Cleveland,  and  during  the  trials  of  Simeon  Bushnell  and 
Charles  H.  Langston,  that  Messrs.  J.  H.  Kagi  and  J.  M. 
Green  made  the  acquaintance  and  won  the  friendship  of 
John  M.  Langston.  They  had  heard  and  approved  his  sen- 
timent, as  he  expressed  himself  in  public  and  private,  in 
denunciation  of  slavery  and  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law.  These 
leading  men  of  John  Brown's  immortal  Spartan  band,  on 
their  way  to  Harper's  Ferry,  had  tarried  in  Cleveland  long 
enough  to  visit  and  proffer  their  services  to  the  thirty-seven 
good  and  true  citizens  there  imprisoned.  Kagi  had  even 
gone  so  far  as  to  proffer  his  services  to  release  them  all  at 
once.  From  these  men,  young  John  Brown  had  learned 
who  the  person  was  to  whom  he  made  his  visit  in  Oberlin. 
Under  the  circumstances,  with  the  knowledge  he  had  gained 


OCCURRENCES  WHICH  WROUGHT  FOR  FREEDOM.   193 

of  Mr.  Langston  from  the  sources  indicated,  Mr.  Brown's 
visit  was  altogether  natural,  and  to  one  from  whom  he 
might  expect  sympathy,  and  to  some  extent,  at  least,  assist- 
ance. The  conference,  somewhat  protracted,  was  interest- 
ing enough,  and  even  now,  as  contemplated  after  the  re- 
sults of  the  Harper's  Ferry  Movement  have  passed  into 
actual  history,  has  not  lost  its  interest. 

In  this  connection,  the  names  of  Sheridan  Leary  and  John 
Copeland,  both  natives  of  Nortk  Carolina,  but  finally  resi- 
dents and  citizens,  by  choice,  of  the  free  and  famous  town  of 
Oberlin,  come  quickly  and  unbidden  to  the  memory,  and 
their  heroic  and  manly  decision  to  die,  if  need  be,  with 
John  Brown  as  their  leader,  challenges  the  admiration  of 
those  who  witnessed  their  conduct  and  heard  their  words, 
as  they  announced  that  decision  in  the  parlor  and  at  the 
conference  here  referred  to,  to  which  they  had  been  in 
due  season  invited.  The  words  of  Leary  shall  ring  forever 
in  the  ears  of  those  who  were  moved  by  them  when  he 
said,  "  I  am  ready  to  die !  I  only  ask  that  when  I  have 
given  my  life  to  free  others,  my  own  wife  and  dear  little 
daughter  shall  never  know  want." 

How  nobly  he  died,  falling  in  the  charge  by  the  side  of 
Kagi,  who  fell  with  him  in  front  of  the  Arsenal  at  Harper's 
Ferry,  history  records.  How  well  John  Copeland  demeaned 
himself,  as  he  followed  the  hero  of  Ossawatomie  to  the 
gallows,  after  the  struggle,  and  died  by  his  side,  history 
equally  records.  And  the  monument  which  the  good 
people  of  Oberlin  have  erected  to  their  memories,  shall 
testify  forever  how  their  courage,  and  their  deeds,  and 
their  death,  are  appreciated  by  those  in  whose  midst  they 
made  their  homes.  The  results  of  the  visit  and  the  confer- 
ence, as  here  indicated,  signify  plainly  enough  how  wise 
and  advantageous  John  Brown,  Jr.'s  coming  to  Oberlin 
proved  to  be,  and  that  he  secured  thereby  two  of  the  brav- 
est negroes  that  this  country  has  produced. 

It  is  perhaps,  true,  that  no  man  of  greater  physical  cour- 
age could  be  found  than  Leary.  No  one  more  fit  to  take 
his  place  by  the  side  of  Brown's  lieutenant,  Kagi,  and  in 


194       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

unflinching  bravery  demonstrate  the  strength  and  quality 
of  his  manhood.  Born  at  Fayetteville,  North  Carolina,  of 
respectable  free  colored  parents,  improved  mentally  and 
morally  much  beyond  most  of  their  class,  by  their  industry 
and  thrift  placed  certainly  in  comfortable  circumstances,  he 
had  learned  those  lessons  of  freedom  by  experience,  obser- 
vation and  parental  instruction  which  made  him  at  once 
intelligent  with  respect  to  the  condition  of  the  American 
slave,  and  which  inspired  him  with  the  manly  resolution  to 
do  whatever  he  might  in  the  use  of  any  means  which  he 
could  control  and  wield,  to  overthrow  the  institution  which 
so  thoroughly  wronged  and  ruined  the  class  with  which 
he  and  his  kin  were  identified.  He  had  married  an  intelli- 
gent and  interesting  young  colored  lady,  the  daughter  of  a 
family  from  North  Carolina,  also  of  the  same  more  ad- 
vanced class  of  his  people.  There  had  been  born,  at  this 
time,  as  the  fruit  of  the  marriage,  a  baby-girl  now  six 
months  of  age.  For  his  wife  and  child  he  entertained  the 
deepest  affection,  and  only  hesitated  as  to  going  to  Harper's 
Ferry  under  John  Brown,  as  he  felt  that  his  dear  ones 
might  come  to  want.  He  said,  finally,  "  Let  me  be  assured 
that  they  will  be  cared  for,  protected  ;  and  if  my  child  shall 
live,  be  suitably  educated  and  trained  to  usefulness;  and  my 
life  shall  be  accounted  by  me  of  the  smallest  value,  as  it  is 
given  if  need  be,  to  free  the  slave."  He  did  not  have  days, 
he  did  not  have  hours,  to  make  up  his  mind.  His  conclu- 
sions were  reached  as  by  a  leap,  and  his  eyes  moistened  with 
tears  only  as  he  thought  of  the  farewell  which  he  must 
bid  his  wife  and  child.  His  decision,  however,  was  firm 
and  manly  !  How  well  he  did  his  duty,  the  record  which 
is  kept  of  the  wonderful,  daring,  matchless  struggle  for  free- 
dom, made  at  Harper's  Ferry,  shall  testify!  And  how 
nobly  he  died  in  the  very  beginning  of  that  struggle,  on 
the  soil  of  a  State  cursed  by  slavery,  is  written  in  the  in- 
telligence of  all  those  who  read  its  history  and  admire 
individual  courage  as  shown  in  facing  death  to  redeem  and 
save  the  oppressed. 

Of   John    Copeland,   whose    father   and    mother   leaving 


OCCURRENCES  WHICH  WROUGHT  FOR  FREEDOM.    195 

North  Carolina  had  located  in  Oberlin,  to  educate  and  pro- 
mote the  general  interests  of  their  family,  the  highest  and 
best  testimonial  may  be  borne  to  his  character  and  name, 
as  well  as  to  his  devotion  to  those  principles  of  liberty  and 
equal  rights  of  which  he  had  learned  at  home,  and  which 
had  been  impressed  upon  his  mind  in  the  teachings  which 
he  had  received  in  the  school  and  the -church  of  Oberlin. 
For  many  years  prior  to  these  occurrences  there  had  been 
established  in  Oberlin,  what  was  known  as  already  stated, 
the  Liberty  School-house,  used  by  day  for  school  purposes 
in  the  interest  of  the  fugitive  slaves  congregated  there,  and 
by  night  for  public  meetings,  where  the  same  class  congre- 
gating, told  the  story  of  their  wrongs  and  described  the 
outrages  which  in  many  cases  compelled  their  flight.  At 
such  meetings,  John  Copeland  could  always  be  found,  and 
to  the  story  told  by  any  fugitive  slave  he  always  gave  the 
most  sympathetic  attention,  signifying  often  by  the  deep 
scowl  of  his  countenance,  the  moist  condition  of  his  eyes 
and  the  quivering  of  his  lips,  how  deeply  he  was  moved  by 
the  recital  of  wrong  and  outrage,  and  how  glad  he  would 
be  to  see  the  institution  under  which  such  abuse  was 
tolerated,  overthrown  and  destroyed.  With  such  feelings 
easily  aroused  in  his  soul,  the  appeal  made  to  him  to  go  out 
to  fight,  and  maybe  to  die  for  those  who  were  enslaved, 
against  whom  wrongs  were  perpetrated  too  black  and  bar- 
barous to  be  described,  was  not  made  in  vain.  As  he  had 
honored  himself  in  the  company  of  the  thirty-six  other  true 
and  valiant  men  who  had  gone  out  to  rescue  John  Price, 
and  suffered  with  them  confinement  in  the  Cleveland  jail 
under  the  Fugitive  Slave  Law,  under  the  promptings  of  a 
manly  nature,  so  now  he  would  honor  himself  in  service  to 
the  cause  of  humanity  in  a  desperate  attack  upon  slavery 
itself,  with  John  Brown  at  Harper's  Ferry.  His  name  like 
those  of  his  noble  comrades,  in  both  attempts  to  serve 
freedom  and  free  principles  in  his  country,  even  unto 
imprisonment  and  death,  shall  live  forever  !  For  they  were 
all  martyrs  worthy  of  the  faith,  whose  examples  American 
youth  will  not  despise  when  emergency  comes  again  to 
American  liberty. 


196       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

While  it  is  true  that  in  every  interview  and  conference 
had  with  any  and  all  persons  advocating  the  Harper's  Ferry 
Movement,  or  any  other  such  enterprise  against  any  por- 
tion of  the  South,  with  a  view  to  the  abolition  of  slavery, 
Mr.  Langston  held,  that  the  movement  would  discover  such 
audacity  on  the  part  of  its  promoters  and  supporters,  as  to 
drive  the  very  class — the  enslaved— away  rather  than  draw 
them  in  needed  numbers  to  it,  and  thus  defeat  the  ostensi- 
ble and  real  object  had  in  view,  he  maintained  always  with 
earnestness  of  decision  and  judgment,  as  a  reliable  and 
trustworthy  friend  of  the  oppressed,  that  the  movements 
would  at  least  tend  to  precipitate  a  condition  of  public 
feeling  in  the  country  which  would  sooner  or  later  create 
disturbance  and  finally  struggle,  which  would  prove  the 
greatest  blessing  to  the  slave  and  the  country.  He  even 
predicted  publicly  that  such  would  be  the  result.  Accord- 
ingly, he  held  that  if  the  indirect  but  necessary  effect  of  the 
Harper's  Ferry  Movement,  like  the  arrest  and  confinement 
of  thirty-seven  intelligent,  worthy  and  influential  citizens, 
white  and  colored,  of  Lorain  County,  Ohio,  tended  to  pre- 
cipitate the  War  of  the  Rebellion,  the  chief  result  of 
which  was  the  overthrow  of  slavery  followed  by  the 
enfranchisement  of  the  emancipated  classes,  all  that  was 
done  and  suffered  in  such  behalf  was  wisely  and  well  done, 
and  the  sacrifices  made  must  ever  be  considered  large  moral 
investments,  profitable  as  well  to  the  people  generally,  as 
to  those  who  thus  gained  their  freedom. 

It  was  well,  though  necessitating  to  all  worthy,  sagacious 
and  patriotic  citizens,  additional  labors  and  sacrifices,  that 
the  Republican  party  was,  at  this  time,  thoroughly  organ- 
ized and  established  for  national  and  state  duty.*  Through 
it  the  salvation  of  the  Union,  the  perpetuity  of  free  institu- 
tions, and  the  general  welfare  of  the  people  were  made 
actual  and  permanent  facts.  To  this  party  Mr.  Langston, 
obeying  the  call  of  intelligent  patriotism,  gave  prompt  sup- 
port in  every  national  and  local  contest  and  showed  himself 
its  sincere  and  determined  advocate  and  supporter.  In  this 
regard,  his  rank  was  exalted  and  his  position  American,  for 


OCCURRENCES  WHICH  WROUGHT  FOR  FREEDOM.  197 

he  followed  where  Lincoln,  Chase,  Seward,  Sumner,  Gid- 
dings,  Stevens,  and  the  other  great  leaders  and  champions 
of  this  party  of  freedom,  moved  in  solemn,  manly  tread 
to  the  accomplishment  of  those  high  deeds  which  make  the 
nation  their  conscious,  perpetual  debtor. 


CHAPTER  XV. 

HIS  RECRUITMENT   OF   COLORED   TROOPS   FOR  THE 
NATIONAL  SERVICE. 

ABRAHAM  LINCOLN  had  been  elected  president  of  the 
United  States!  The  circumscription,  if  not  the  overthrow 
of  slavery,  seemed  to  be  at  hand.  The  temper  and  metal 
of  the  South  were  now  to  be  tested.  Would  secession,  to 
be  followed  inevitably  by  war,  be  adopted  as  the  only  and 
last  source  of  defence  left  to  an  oligarchy  of  slavery  which 
sought  to  dominate  the  country  and  government?  The 
feelings  of  the  country,  gathering  strength  and  intensity 
under  the  influence  of  an  agitation  rendered  serious  and 
affecting  by  words  as  well  as  deeds,  calculated  to  stir  and 
heat  the  blood,  even  of  a  people  ordinarily  cool  and  deliber- 
ate, ran  high  as  a  mighty  angry  flood  about  to  sweep  every- 
thing before  it.  The  sagest  statesmen  were  staggered  in 
the  presence  of  the  threatening  events  which  threw  their 
black  appalling  shadows  across  the  republic.  They  could 
not  speak  with  authority  and  reliable  forecast  as  to  what  of 
portent  and  calamity  awaited  the  nation.  All  could 
feel,  however,  the  approach  of  a  cruel,  deadly  storm.  That 
slavery,  strong  now  and  defiant  in  its  purposes  and  designs 
against  the  government,  would  make  open  war-like  assaults 
upon  it,  was  generally  feared.  Although  few  persons  in  the 
land  seemed  prepared  to  assert  the  certainty  of  such  pro- 
cedure, all  felt  that  it  must  come.  The  president-elect,  the 
representative  of  all  those  republican  principles  and  doctrines 
198 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  199 

which  the  South  loathed  and  detested,  had  hardly  felt  upon 
his  election  that  such  murderous,  popular  feeling  existed 
in  any  part  of  the  country  as  to  render  his  journey  from 
Illinois  to  Washington  city  dangerous  or  difficult.  His 
friends,  however,  found  it  necessary  to  warn  him  on  his 
arrival  at  Harrisburg,  Pennsylvania,  that  it  would  be  well 
for  him  to  move  upon  his  guard  in  passing  through  the 
city  of  Baltimore  to  the  capital.  Early  after  his  inaugura- 
tion, the  South  seizing  his  advent  to  power  as  cause  for 
their  rebellious  proceedings,  announced  their  secession  in 
the  thunder  of  great  guns,  as  they  echoed  and  re-echoed  the 
attack  of  the  insolent,  mad  oligarchy  of  despotism  upon 
the  nation.  The  attack  at  first  was  treated  as  an  insurrec- 
tion of  small  power  which  might  be  easily  crushed.  Soon 
however  the  purpose  and  strength  of  the  insurgent  forces 
were  discovered,  and  instead  of  seventy-five  thousand 
soldiers  called  for  a  brief  period  of  enlistment,  the  govern- 
ment needed  hundreds  of  thousands  of  its  most  valiant  men, 
to  go  out  to  make  war  in  earnest  and  to  the  end  to  save  the 
Union,  free  institutions  and  the  government,  as  the  Fathers 
of  the  Republic  had  bequeathed  them  to  loyal  worthy 
sons.  TJie  War  of  the  Rebellion  was  actually  upon  the 
nation ! 

At  its  commencement,  there  was  the  strongest  possible 
feeling  found  in  all  parts  of  the  country,  against  taking 
colored  men  into  the  army  of  the  nation  as  soldiers.  And 
it  was  not  until  after  the  famous  meeting  of  loyal  governors 
held  at  Altoona,  Pennsylvania,  as  late  as  the  early  part  of 
1863,  that  the  purpose  was  expressed  by  the  late  John  A. 
Andrew,  governor  of  Massachusetts,  as  permitted  by  his 
colleagues,  and  as  authorized  by  the  general  government,  to 
organize  regiments  of  such  persons.  His  colleagues,  the 
loyal  governors  present,  gave  him  their  consent  to  that 
proposition,  allowing  enlistments  from  their  several  States 
as  credited  to  his  own,  and  expressed  the  wish  that  he 
undertake  such  work. 

There  was  no  man  in  the  United  States,  all  things  con- 
sidered, so  well  adapted  to  inaugurate  the  movement  in 


200       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

this  behalf,  as  the  man  to  whom  Governor  Andrew  as- 
signed it.  Full  of  genuine  devotion  to  that  freedom  and 
impartiality  which  knows  no  color  in  a  human  being ; 
wholly  alive  to  the  deadly  effects  of  slavery  upon  every 
interest  of  his  country ;  anxious  to  employ  every  honorable 
means  to  stay  its  encroachments  and  to  snatch  from  its 
bloody  clutches  any  instrument  or  power  which  it  might 
wield  to  the  ruin  of  the  government  and  the  country  ;  with 
full  knowledge  of  the  soldierly  qualities  of  the  negro 
troops  of  the  Revolutionary  Army  and  of  the  War  of 
1812  ;  Mr.  George  L.  Stearns,  an  old  tried  friend  of  John 
Brown,  a  loyal  merchant  of  Boston,  wealthy  himself  and 
able  to  secure  all  the  means  necessary  for  the  early  stages 
of  such  work,  was  the  man  of  all  others  to  be  charged  with 
this  duty.  He  was  well  known  in  connection  with  his 
efforts  to  prevent  slaveholding  in  Kansas,  employing  his 
means  largely  and  his  entire  influence  to  accomplish  this 
object.  Nor,  when  questioned  even  by  a  committee  of 
Congress  with  regard  to  any  part  he  had  taken  in  such  work, 
or  any  support  which  he  had  given  John  Brown  in  his 
raid  on  Harper's  Ferry,  did  he  hesitate  to  speak  frankly  and 
fully  on  those  subjects,  telling  what  he  did  and  what  funds 
he  furnished  to  advance  and  support  either  enterprise. 
New  England  could  not  produce  a  man  of  higher  social 
position,  anti-slavery  fame  aud  general  influence  than  Mr. 
Stearns.  He  was  armed  too  for  this  special  task  by  reason 
of  his  great  knowledge  of  the  leading  colored  men  and 
their  chief  white  friends  of  the  United  States,  all  of  whom 
he  might  employ  as  instruments  of  the  largest  impor- 
tance in  promoting  the  recruitment  of  the  colored  troops. 
It  was  of  the  first  importance  under  the  circumstances  that 
his  knowledge  of  the  colored  men  of  the  United  States  be 
such  that  he  would  understand  well  how  to  make  selections 
from  among  them,  so  as  to  secure  the  largest  efficiency 
with  the  most  desirable  results  in  this  service.  It  was 
material  too  that  he  should  have  knowledge  of  such  white 
men  in  every  quarter  as  might  further  by  counsel  and  in- 
fluence any  movement  which  mi^ht  be  made  to  reach  the 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  201 

colored  citizen  and  to  secure  his  enlistment.  Accordingly, 
he  had  no  sooner  accepted  the  responsibility  of  recruiting 
the  first  colored  troops  from  the  North  to  be  admitted  to 
the  national  service,  than  he  did  select  colored  men,  who  by 
their  ability  and  influence  were  capable  of  doing  the  most 
successful  work  among  their  own  class  ;  while  he  organized 
such  committees  of  white  men,  in  different  sections  of  the 
country,  to  aid  and  support  the  movement  in  such  general 
way  as  seemed  to  be  necessary.  To  one  well  advised  his 
efforts  in  such  respects  must  be  deemed  of  the  greatest  im- 
portance. At  the  time  that  he  commenced  his  service,  the 
government  supplied  neither  means  nor  men  for  his  use. 
He  was  compelled  to  find  and  furnish  both. 

As  his  chief  recruiting  agent  for  the  western  part  of  the 
country,  Mr.  Stearns  selected  and  employed  Mr.  John  M. 
Langston.  The  duties  which  he  enjoined  upon  this  agent, 
in  whom  he  reposed  the  greatest  confidence,  were  much 
beyond  that  of  mere  recruiting.  For  he  invited  him  not 
only  to  special  consultations  connected  with  the  service, 
but  expected  him  to  attend  and  address  great  popular 
assemblies,  as  might  seem  to  be  necessary  in  the  great 
cities  and  important  rural  districts,  explaining  every  feature 
of  the  national  and  state  laws  concerning  the  recruitment 
of  all  troops  enlisted  and  sent  to  Massachusetts  for  organ- 
ization in  regiments  and  service  as  credited  to  that  State. 
The  questions  of  monthly  pay,  allowances  generally  and 
bounties  were  of  special  importance,  and  required  careful 
and  proper  explanation.  Besides,  the  feeling  against  taking 
any  part  as  soldiers  in  the  war  so  far  as  the  colored  people 
were  concerned,  consequent  upon  their  rejection  heretofore, 
whenever  offering  to  do  so,  had  to  be  overcome  by  cautious, 
truthful  statements,  made  with  such  candor  and  appeal  as 
to  create  after  meeting  their  prejudices,  favorable  and 
effective  impressions.  Mr.  Langston's  work  was  largely, 
almost  entirely  in  the  beginning,  of  such  character,  and 
even  when  Mr.  Stearns  was  himself  present  at  such  public 
meetings  he  insisted  that  his  agent  should  do  the  speaking. 
He  invited  Mr.  Langston  to  n>eet  him  first  at  Buffalo,  Ne\v 


202       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

York,  for  consultation.  Subsequently,  he  invited  him  to 
meet  a  large  company  of  friends  interested  in  the  work  at 
Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania.  After  this  last  conference, 
Mr.  Langston  entered  vigorously,  by  request  of  Mr.  Stearns 
and  by  arrangement  made  with  him,  upon  the  recruitment 
of  the  54th  Massachusetts  Regiment.  His  success  in  this 
work,  especially  in  the  States  of  Ohio,  Indiana  and  Illinois, 
was  entirely  satisfactory,  and  although  a  very  large  number 
of  men — perhaps  three  thousand  or  more — was  sent  to 
Massachusetts  from  which  to  select  choice  ones  for  the  reg- 
iment, its  recruitment  was  soon  accomplished.  The  last 
seventy-five  men  taken  into  Company  K,  were  sent  from 
Xenia,  Ohio,  where  recruited,  to  Camp  Meigs,  Massachu- 
setts. Quite  immediately  upon  their  enlistment,  the  regi- 
ment was  moved  to  South  Carolina,  and  within  a  very  short 
time,  under  its  illustrious  commanding  officer,  Colonel 
Shaw,  made  its  famous  charge  upon  Fort  Wagner.  Every 
one  of  these  seventy-five  men,  young,  vigorous,  manly, 
and  brave,  fell  in  this  charge.  They  fell  with  Shaw,  and 
sleep  in  graves  as  honorable  as  his  ! 

A  single  incident  connected  with  the  recruitment  of  these 
men  is  worthy  of  special  mention.  The  son  of  an  aged 
black  woman  living  a  mile  or  more  out  of  Xenia  upon  the 
public  highway,  was  one  of  their  number.  He  was  her  only 
son,  in  fact  her  only  child,  and  she  relied  upon  him  for 
support  and  protection.  This  mother  called  upon  Mr. 
Langston,  just  after  her  son  had  bidden  her  farewell  and 
left  his  home.  Her  heart  was  evidently  moved  by  the 
deepest  feeling  as  she  thought  of  him,  the  dangers  which 
awaited  him,  and  realized  that  she  might  not  see  him  again. 
As  she  entered  the  house,  inquiring  for  the  man  who  was 
inducing  and  enlisting  persons  to  go  to  the  war,  it  was 
feared  that  she  had  come,  perhaps,  to  make  complaint  in 
violent  and  untempered  language.  Her  bearing  and  manner, 
however,  soon  removed  all  such  feeling.  And,  as  she  opened 
her  mouth,  she  discovered  in  the  midst  of  her  sadness  a 
temper  of  remarkable  intelligence  and  good  nature.  She 
had  not  come  to  make  complaint.  Instead,  she  came  to  say 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  203 

that  while  she  regretted  the  loss  of  her  son,  she  wanted  him, 
now  that  he  had  gone,  to  enter  the  service  intelligently, 
with  manly  purpose,  and  to  discharge  his  duty  as  an 
American  soldier  with  courage  and  vigor.  She  asked  that 
he  be,  accordingly,  fully  instructed  and  disciplined,  so  that 
such  would  be  his  course.  In  every  word  and  act  she 
manifested  the  spirit  and  devotion  of  an  earnest  and  worthy 
American  mother.  When  assured  that  the  greatest  care 
would  be  taken  not  only  to  instruct  and  discipline,  but  to 
protect  her  son,  consistently  with  the  faithful  discharge  of 
his  duties  as  a  soldier,  she  expressed  full  confidence  in  the 
statement  and  the  hope  that  not  only  all  might  go  well 
with  her  child,  but  that  the  cause  of  the  government  and 
the  welfare  of  her  people  might  be  promoted,  if  need  be, 
even  in  his  death.  "  For,  "  said  she,  "  liberty  is  better  than 
life."  As  already  stated,  her  son  went  out  to  die,  making 
her  offering  to  the  country  and  the  cause  of  her  people  a 
precious  and  costly  one.  The  number  of  colored  mothers 
who  thus  gave  their  only  sons,  and  who  might  detail  in 
sympathetic  words  their  own  similar  experiences  with  those 
of  this  one,  shall  never  be  known.  Fortunately,  however, 
for  the  country,  no  one  of  them  is  found,  even  to  this  day, 
who  would  offer  any  word  of  complaint.  They  are  all  too 
proud  that  they  were  permitted  to  bear  sons,  who  at  last 
should  constitute  their  richest  gifts  to  the  republic. 

The  54th  Massachusetts  Regiment  was  one  composed  of 
selected  men.  Its  personnel  was  of  the  highest  character. 
Many  of  the  first  colored  families  had  representatives  in  it, 
and  many  of  the  very  best  young  colored  men  were  num- 
bered among  its  troops.  The  roster  of  its  commissioned 
officers  showed  the  names  of  the  very  finest  representative 
young  white  men,  chosen  and  appointed  as  well  with  refer- 
ence to  their  social  position  and  family  connections,  as  to 
their  qualifications  for  their  several  duties.  For  it  was  the 
purpose  of  the  friends  of  the  experiment  which  this  regi- 
ment should  make  in  connection  with  the  national  service, 
to  wisely  and  thoroughly  furnish  it  in  officers,  men  and 
every  appointment  for  the  work  which  it  was  called  to  per- 


204       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

form.  Besides,  every  care  was  exercised  to  put  the  regi- 
ment, while  in  camp,  in  the  best  possible  physical,  moral 
and  mental  condition  and  discipline  for  the  field.  No 
regiment  ever  left  its  camp  followed  by  more  hearty  anx- 
ieties and  earnest  prayers  for  its  welfare  than  this  one. 
And  no  State  ever  exhibited  deeper  interest  in  the  success 
of  any  portion  of  its  soldiery,  than  Massachusetts  for  the 
troops  of  its  54th  Regiment.  Governor  Andrew  and  his 
agent,  Mr.  Stearns,  appreciated  most  fully  the  expectations 
which  were  entertained  with  regard  to  this  enterprise  inau- 
gurated by  them  and  the  experiences  which  must  await 
the  men  of  their  first  regiment.  The  men  were  not  them- 
selves unconscious  of  the  dignity,  responsibility  and  danger 
of  their  position,  and  yet  they  advanced  to  the  full  dis- 
charge of  their  duties  with  intelligent  American  courage. 
The  proof  of  this  is  shown  in  the  patriotic,  shining  record 
which  this  regiment  made  for  itself  in  contests  requiring 
the  best  soldierly  elements  and  behavior. 

Upon  the  completion  of  the  54th,  Mr.  Stearns,  with  his 
full  force,  including  of  course  Mr.  Langston,  undertook  the 
recruitment  of  the  55th  Massachusetts  Regiment.  Care 
was  still  taken  as  to  the  physical  condition  and  make  of  the 
men  enlisted  and  forwarded  to  Camp  Meigs,  and  it  is  to 
be  said  with  truth  that  this  was  also  a  regiment  of  selected 
men.  They  were,  however,  mainly  enlisted  in  and  sent  from 
Ohio.  At  this  time  denied,  especially  in  that  State,  the 
opportunity  and  privilege  of  enlistment  for  the  public  ser- 
vice on  common  equal  terms,  the  colored  men  of  Ohio  had 
very  generally  resolved  to  leave  their  own  State,  and  going 
to  Massachusetts,  enter  the  service  as  citizens  of  that  Com- 
monwealth. More  than  this,  Ohio  had  provided  no  boun- 
ties for  such  troops,  while  Massachusetts  had,  and  the  latter 
had  made  arrangements  through  state  appropriation  for 
equalizing  the  pay  of  colored  troops  from  that  State  with  that 
of  white  troops,  and  all  allowances  were  identical  in  value 
and  character.  It  is  not  difficult  to  understand  how  such 
considerations  would  operate  in  determining  the  action  of 
the  colored  men.  When  it  is  added  that  they  had  already 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  205 

come  to  understand  that  Governor  Andrew  and  Mr.  Stearns 
were  special  friends  of  their  race,  and  would  see  to  it  beyond 
doubt  that  they  had  fair  treatment  in  all  respects,  in  the  camp 
and  in  the  field,  their  action  in  such  regard  would  seem  to 
be  under  the  circumstances,  natural  and  inevitable.  So  far 
cis  the  major  portion  of  the  regiment  was  concerned,  it  was 
composed  of  Ohio  men ;  so  much  so  that  Mr.  Langston, 
who  supervised  and  directed  its  recruitment,  determined  to 
have  made  in  his  own  state  and  at  his  own  expense,  a  full 
stand  of  regimental  colors  for  it.  Accordingly,  colors  were 
purchased  as  ordered  and  made  by  Scheilotto  &  Co.,  Cincin- 
nati, Ohio.  To  this  arrangement  Governor  Andrew  and 
Mr.  Stearns  gave  their  ready  assent  and  the  colors,  made  of 
the  very  finest  materials  used  for  such  purposes,  were  on 
the  completion  of  its  recruitment,  forwarded  by  express  to 
Camp  Meigs  and  formally  and  duly  presented.  They  were 
borne  in  pride  by  the  regiment  from  the  camp  to  the  field, 
in  every  battle  in  which  it  played  a  part,  and  returned  at 
last,  bearing  all  the  marks  of  patriotic,  brave  service,  to  the 
capitol  of  the  Commonwealth  of  Massachusetts,  where  they 
can  be  seen  this  day,  as  sacredly  kept  among  the  precious 
relics  of  the  War  of  the  Rebellion. 

At  first  Mr.  Langston  had  intended  to  deliver  the  colors 
in  person  to  the  55th  Massachusetts  Regiment,  and  was  on 
his  way  with  them,  when  on  reaching  Columbus,  Ohio,  the 
governor  of  the  State,  the  Hon.  David  Todd,  hearing  that 
he  was  in  the  city,  invited  him  to  call  for  a  special  inter- 
view. He  did  so,  when  to  his  surprise  the  governor  asked 
him  to  engage  in  the  recruitment  of  colored  troops  for  his 
state.  Heretofore,  about  one  year  before  this  call,  Mr. 
Langston  had  suggested  to  Governor  Todd  that  he  would 
be  glad,  were  it  agreeable  to  his  feelings  and  judgment,  to 
recruit  and  locate  a  regiment  of  a  thousand  and  one  colored 
men  in  Camp  Delaware,  without  expense  of  a  single  dollar 
to  the  state  government,  upon  the  sole  condition  that  they 
be  received,  duly  organized,  officered  and  employed  as  regular 
soldiers  in  the  national  service  ;  to  all  of  which  the  gover- 
nor made  reply  of  most  remarkable  character,  but  what  un- 


206       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

der  the  circumstances  in  his  State  and  the  country  seemed 
to  be  altogether  natural.  This  meeting  occurred  prior  of 
course  to  the  convention  of  loyal  governors,  and  the  answer 
which  he  made  was  a  reflection  of  the  general  feeling  obtain- 
ing in  the  country  with  respect  to  the  status  of  the  colored 
American  and  his  relations  to  the  government.  His  reply 
was  in  substance  as  follows  :  "  Do  you  not  know,  Mr.  Lang- 
ston,  that  this  is  a  white  mans  government  ;  that  white  men 
are  able  to  defend  and  protect  it,  and  that  to  enlist  a  negro 
soldier  would  be  to  drive  every  white  man  out  of  the  service  ? 
When  we  want  you  colored  men  we  will  notify  you."  To 
which  Mr.  Langston  made  respectful  reply,  "  Governor, 
when  you  need  us,  send  for  us."  But  now  a  great  change 
had  come  over  the  feelings  and  the  judgment  of  Governor 
Todd,  and  he  had  actually  sent  for  the  very  man  to  whom 
he  had  made  the  speech  given,  and  who  had  made  the  prom- 
ise implied  in  his  response.  •  However,  Mr.  Langston  oc- 
cupied another  position  than  that  in  which  he  stood  when 
he  tendered  his  services  in  connection  with  the  proposed 
Ohio  regiment  of  the  year  before.  So  he  explained  to  the 
governor  and  advised  him  that  he  could  do  now  no  recruiting 
even  in  Ohio,  without  the  authority  and  direction  of  Mr. 
Stearns,  as  he  might  issue  his  orders  to  such  effect  by  com- 
mand of  the  secretary  of  war.  He  also  informed  the  gover- 
nor that  he  had  just  completed  the  recruitment  of  the  55th 
Massachusetts  Regiment,  which  was  composed  mainly  of 
Ohio  men,  and  that  he  was  then  on  his  way  to  Camp  Meigs 
with  a  stand  of  regimental  colors,  purchased  as  they  had  been 
ordered  expressly  for  this  regiment.  The  governor  mani- 
fested such  interest  in  the  matter  that  he  insisted  that  Mr. 
Langston  allow  him  to  send  a  porter  to  his  hotel  for  the  box 
containing  the  colors,  that  he  might  see  and  examine  them. 
This  was  done  without  the  least  hesitation,  and  so  soon  as 
brought  and  the  governor  had  seen  them,  he  pronounced 
them  so  beautiful  and  the  purpose  for  which  they  had  been 
secured  so  important  and  interesting,  that  he  wanted  them 
exhibited  from  the  eastern  steps  of  the  capitol  to  a  popular 
gathering,  miscellaneous  and  general,  which  he  offered  to  call 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  207 

together  upon  condition  that  Mr.  Langston  would  make 
what  he  called  "  a  war  speech."  To  this  proposition  the  gov- 
ernor was  told  that  it  was  necessary  for  the  colors  to  be  deliv- 
ered in  Massachusetts  at  an  early  day,  and  that  any 
considerable  delay  in  such  respect  might  work  serious  em- 
barrassment. However,  upon  reflection  and  a  little  calcula- 
tion of  dates,  a  hurried  meeting  was  agreed  upon  and 
subsequently  held.  Meantime,  in  a  second  visit  to  Governor 
Todd,  and  after  he  had  communicated  by  telegraph  both 
with  Mr.  Stearns  and  Secretary  Stanton,  it  was  settled  that 
Mr.  Langston  should  send  the  colors  forward  by  express  and 
proceed  at  once  to  the  recruitment  of  a  regiment  of  colored 
troops  which  should  be  credited  to  Ohio.  The  governor 
accordingly  himself  had  the  colors  sent  forward  and  he,  his 
private  secretary  Judge  Hoffman,  and  Mr.  Langston  made 
without  the  least  delay  all  necessary  arrangements  for  the 
recruitment  of  the  Ohio  regiment. 

The  5th  United  States  colored  troops  was  the  regiment 
referred  to,  and  it  was  composed  of  young  Ohio  men,  in  the 
main  of  excellent  physique,  character  and  courage.  Per- 
haps no  braver  men  ever  saw  service  among  any  class  of 
people  at  any  period  in  the  history  of  the  world  than  those 
who  constituted  its  rank  and  file.  The  first  three  hundred 
men  recruited  were  deceived  by  statements  with  respect  to 
their  monthly  pay  and  allowances  for  clothing.  This  mistake 
under  the  circumstances,  was  the  result  of  the  belief  and  opin- 
ion that  the  men  of  Ohio  would  be  treated  precisely  as  those 
enlisted  for  Massachusetts,  and  was  wholly  natural.  In  a 
conference  with  Judge  Hoffman,  it  was  discovered  that  the 
rule  of  law  applying  to  the  national  service  in  accordance 
with  which  the  pay  and  allowances  of  the  Ohio  troops  must 
be  regulated,  differed  from  those  applied  to  the  Massachu- 
setts troops,  in  that  the  national  regulations  failing  in  full 
and  equal  provision  for  the  colored  troops  of  the  last- 
named  State,  that  State  made  special  provision  in  that 
behalf.  Ohio  did  no  such  thing,  and  hence  the  error  and 
mistake  made  as  indicated.  No  sooner  had  this  matter 
been  brought  to  the  attention  of  the  governor  than  he 


208       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

held  and  ordered  that  the  men  already  thus  deceived  and 
in  rendezvous  at  Camp  Delaware,  must  have  full  explana- 
tion made  to  them,  and  informed  that  they  were  all  at  lib- 
erty  to  return  to  their  homes  should  they  so  decide  to  do, 
at  the  expense  of  the  government ;  that  no  deception  how- 
ever made  could  be  allowed  in  their  case.  At  once  full 
explanations  were  made  to  the  men,  the  mistakes  were 
pointed  out  with  the  greatest  care  and  minuteness,  and 
they  advised  that  they  were  at  liberty  should  they  choose, 
to  leave  the  camp  for  their  homes.  These  men  had  been 
recruited  in  different  parts  of  Ohio.  About  one-third  of 
them  came  from  Washington  County,  the  other  two-thirds 
from  Athens  and  neighboring  counties  ;  all  of  the  latter, 
however,  in  a  single  company,  as  they  had  been  collected 
through  the  influence  of  their  leader,  who  had  calculated 
to  enlist  them  finally  for  Massachusetts.  Indeed,  all  these 
men  at  first  had  expected  to  be  sent  to  that  State  for  entry  of 
the  service.  Their  leaders  were  Messrs.  Solomon  Grimes  of 
the  first  one-third  mentioned,  and  Milton  M.  Holland  of 
the  other  portion.  These  two  persons,  the  latter  but  a 
mere  boy,  held  their  respective  companies  completely  under 
their  influence  and  control,  and  either,  when  the  explana- 
tions alluded  to  were  given,  might  have  directed  his  men 
to  leave  the  camp  and  they  would  have  gone.  However, 
Mr.  Holland  and  his  men  were  decided  and  manly  at  once 
in  their  course,  thus  greatly  influencing  Mr.  Grimes  and  his 
men  to  remain,  and  so  not  a  single  man  of  the  three  hun- 
dred left  the  camp.  All  accepted  the  explanations  as 
made  in  good  faith,  as  they  concluded  the  mistakes  had 
been  made  without  intent  to  do  the  least  injury.  Besides, 
the  leaders  and  every  man  asserted  that  he  was  ready  to 
accept  the  situation  just  as  it  was,  and  show  his  patriotism 
and  devotion  to  his  country  in  efforts  and  struggles  for  its 
defence  which  might  cost  him  even  his  life.  More  beauti- 
ful, manly  conduct  was  not  exhibited  in  any  camping- 
ground  of  the  American  soldier  during  the  wars  of  the  late 
Rebellion,  than  this  of  these  colored  troops  of  Ohio  at 
Camp  Delaware.  Thereafter,  the  recruitment  of  the  regi- 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  209 

ment  was  conducted  with  reasonable  rapidity  and  success. 
Such  was  the  conduct  of  the  men  coming  to  camp,  and 
their  reputation  for  considerate  behavior,  aptness  and  atten- 
tion to  drill  and  soldierly  advancement,  that  all  over  the 
State,  young  colored  men  were  moved  to  the  emulation  of 
their  example,  and  towards  the  close  of  its  recruitment  in 
many  cases  sought  place  in  the  regiment.  On  its  comple- 
tion it  showed  in  its  personnel,  a  fine  body  of  excellent 
men,  of  soldierly  qualities  and  character.  Ohio,  so  far  as 
the  rank  and  file  of  its  best  regiments  were  concerned, 
could  boast  of  no  better  material  in  its  representatives  col- 
lected in  any  camp,  and  called  as  its  soldiers  to  the  defence 
of  the  government. 

Great  care  was  taken  to  make  wise  and  judicious  selec- 
tions of  commissioned  officers  for  these  troops.  The  col- 
onel of  the  regiment  was  selected  from  among  the  scholars 
of  the  State  with  special  reference  to  his  personal  respect 
and  consideration  of  the  class  of  people  whose  sons  he 
would  lead  and  command  in  the  face  of  danger.  Professor 
G.  W.  Shurtliff  was  a  young  man  of  extraordinarily  high 
personal  and  social  character,  of  strictly  Christian  principles 
and  habits,  with  recognized  reputation  and  influence  as  an 
abolitionist  and  friend  of  the  negro  race.  He  was  besides 
a  white  person,  in  every  sense  manly,  noble  and  brave. 
Every  man  in  the  regiment  upon  making  his  acquaintance, 
witnessing  his  behavior  and  bearing,  became  heartily  and 
thoroughly  devoted  to  him  as  to  a  faithful,  staunch  friend, 
always  ready  to  do  whatever  he  might  for  the  good  of  his 
command.  The  lieutenant-colonel  and  all  the  other  com- 
missioned officers  were  white  men  of  great  fitness  for  their 
special  duties  and  of  like  high  personal  and  social  name  and 
position.  The  recruitment  of  the  regiment,  with  the  selec- 
tion and  commission  of  every  officer,  was  completed  by  the 
early  part  of  November,  1863.  The  white  inhabitants  re- 
siding in  the  neighborhood  of  Camp  Delaware,  were  at  first 
utterly  opposed  to  having  that  camp  occupied  by  colored 
troops.  They  feared  every  sort  of  disorderly,  unbecoming 
conduct  on  their  part,  and  dreaded  them  as  a  host  of 


210       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

petty  thieves  coming  among  them  to  commit  manifold  and 
frightful  depredations.  White  troops  had  been  in  rendez- 
vous there,  and  it  was  their  bad  conduct  largely  which  had 
superinduced  this  dread  of  the  presence  of  the  colored  ones. 
However,  it  is  not  recorded  in  the  doings  of  the  camp,  or 
remembered  by  the  community,  that  a  single  act  of  vandal- 
ism or  any  conduct  unbecoming  an  American  soldier, 
stands  charged  against  any  one  of  the  men  composing  this 
regiment,  while  in  camp.  It  remained  there^from  the  date 
of  the  arrival  of  its  first  men  to  that  of  its  departure,  for  a 
little  over  four  months.  The  leading  white  men  of  the 
neighborhood  were  open  and  positive  in  expressions  favor- 
ing the  good  conduct  of  the  men.  Such  record  made  in 
camp  and  by  the  first  regiment  of  colored  men  recruited  in 
Ohio,  was  regarded  by  all  friends  of  the  race  as  most  im- 
portant and  favorable. 

Mr.  Langston  was  determined  that  no  regiment  going 
into  the  service  of  the  government  should  do  so  under 
richer  or  more  beautiful  colors  than  this  one.  And  he  was 
equally  determined  that  they  should  not  leave  the  camp 
without  suitable  and  impressive  ceremonies  in  connection 
with  their  presentation.  He  therefore  made  arrangements 
with  the  firm  of  Scheilotto  &  Co.,  of  Cincinnati,  to  make 
for  it  a  stand  of  first-class  regimental  colors.  He  provided 
for  presenting  them  at  the  camp  on  the  day  before  the 
regiment  was  to  leave  for  the  field.  Governor  Todd,  ex- 
Governor  William  Dennison,  with  several  other  leading 
citizens,  prominent  in  the  State,  had  been  invited  and  were 
present  and  took  part  in  the  exercises.  The  principal 
speech  of  the  occasion  was  made  to  the  full  regiment,  with 
every  officer  present,  by  the  governor  himself.  He  appre- 
ciated fully  the  real  character  of  the  circumstances,  and 
moved  in  accordance  therewith,  he  made  an  address  of  re- 
markable and  peculiar  power  and  effect.  It  was  solemn, 
earnest,  pathetic,  impressive  and  eloquent.  He  reached  the 
climax  however,  when  in  closing  he  said  to  the  regiment, 
"  My  boys,  sons  of  the  State,  go  forth  now  as  you  are  called 
to  fight  for  our  country  and  its  government  !  Let  your 


I'KKSKNTATJON    OF   COLORS   TO    5TH    U.    S.   COLORED   TROOPS,  CAMP    DELAWARE,   OHIO,  l6oj. 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  211 

conduct  be  that  of  brave,  intelligent  devoted,  American 
citizens  !  If  such  shall  be  your  course,  if  spared  and  I  can 
reach  you  no  otherwise,  on  your  return  I  will  come  upon 
my  hands  and  knees  to  meet  and  greet  you  !  And  my 
words  of  commendation  and  praise  shall  be  prompted  by 
my  pride  and  satisfaction  in  view  of  your  behavior !  But, 
should  your  conduct  be  that  of  cowards,  showing  your  for- 
getfulness  of  the  fearful  responsibility  which  now  rests  upon 
your  shoulders  and  the  supreme  dignity  of  the  mission  to 
which  your  government  calls  and  this  State  sends  you,  as 
you  return,  I  will  crawl  if  need  be,  away  from  you,  that  I 
may  never  look  again  in  your  faces !  I  have,  however,  full 
confidence  in  you  ;  and  my  prayer  to  Almighty  God  is  that 
He  will  protect  while  He  gives  you  victory  in  every  battle 
in  which  you  may  be  called  to  take  part."  This  address 
was  received  in  the  spirit  with  which  it  was  delivered,  and 
accepted  by  the  men  as  the  parting  counsel  of  one  deeply 
and  cordially  interested  in  their  welfare.  Every  circum- 
stance and  feature  of  this  occasion  was  marked  by  the 
happiest,  though  solemn  indications  of  prospective  success. 
Accepting  its  colors  from  the  hands  of  a  distinguished  ex- 
governor  of  the  State,  who  above  all  others  present  could 
employ  words  befitting  that  service,  tender,  generous  and 
affecting,  the  regiment  discovered  in  its  deep  emotion  and 
intelligent  expression  of  its  feelings,  as  shown  in  the  re- 
sponse of  Colonel  Shurtliff,  its  appreciation  and  value  of 
the  honor  done  it  in  their  presentation.  The  record  which 
the  regiment  made  in  the  desperate  and  deadly  struggles 
in  which  it  played  important  conspicuous  part  under  those 
colors  about  Richmond  and  Petersburg!!,  shall  tell  whether 
they  bore  them  bravely  in  glory  to  the  end  ! 

No  state  bounty  had  been  provided  by  the  government 
of  Ohio  for  these  troops.  Massachusetts  had  done  her  duty 
in  such  behalf  for  her  colored  troops  in  generous  provision. 
Mr.  Langston,  therefore,  undertook  to  raise  by  voluntary 
contribution,  at  least  money  enough  to  make  a  small  purse, 
to  be  presented  to  every  man  of  the  regiment  on  the  day 
that  the  colors  were  given.  He  succeeded  in  collecting 


212       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

only  enough  to  give  each  soldier  two  dollars  and  a  half. 
This  sum,  in  view  of  the  very  kind  treatment  which  the 
commandant  of  the  post,  Colonel  McCoy,  had  shown  the 
regiment,  and  in  view  of  its  very  great  respect  and  love  of 
him,  was  used  to  purchase  presents  for  himself  and  his  wife. 
The  gift  to  him  was  a  fine  gold  watch,  and  that  to  his  wife 
a  rich,  costly  and  elegant  ring.  Mr.  Langston  presented 
the  gifts  in  the  name  of  the  regiment  to  the  commandant. 
This  officer  was  so  deeply  moved  and  affected  by  this  un- 
expected proceeding,  that  he  was  compelled,  in  the  midst 
of  his  tears  even,  to  ask  ex-Governer  Dennison  to  thank 
the  regiment  for  himself  and  Mrs.  McCoy. 

The  regiment  leaving  Camp  Delaware  in  the  early  part 
of  November,  1863,  went  directly  to  Portsmouth,  Virginia, 
taking  its  place  in  the  Army  of  the  James,  in  that  Depart- 
ment of  that  State.  Very  shortly  it  was  ordered  into  active 
service,  and  figured  with  unsurpassed  courage  and  brilliancy 
in  at  least  ten  battles  about  Richmond  and  Petersburgh, 
winning  special  distinction  in  its  charge  upon  New  Market 
Heights.  Its  courage,  gallantry  and  endurance  were  put 
to  the  test,  indeed,  in  this  charge  which  gave  it  such  note. 
The  names  of  several  young  men  connected  with  this 
regiment,  especially  certain  of  its  non-commissioned  officers, 
who,  by  reason  of  the  sad  havoc  made  among  its  commis- 
sioned ones  in  killed  and  wounded,  were  permitted  to  and 
did  make  honorable  records  in  hot,  deadly  battle,  might  be 
mentioned.  Indeed,  their  names  shall  be  written  here, 
because  of  the  merits  and  deserts  of  those  who  bear  them, 
and  because  they  represent  a  great  class  whose  highest 
aspiration  is  discovered  in  their  desire  and  determination  to 
serve,  even  unto  death,  their  country  and  its  government. 
Milton  M.  Holland,  Powhatan  Beatty,  Robert  A.  Pinn, 
James  S.  Tyler,  James  Bronson,  not  to  mention  others, 
constitute  a  galaxy  of  heroes,  who  by  exemplary,  manly, 
and  daring  conduct,  as  officers  and  men  of  the  5th  United 
States  colored  troops,  are  entitled  to  signal  fame  and 
renown. 

An  incident  connected  with  the  recruitment  of  Milton  M. 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  213 

Holland  and  the  men  whom  he  held  under  his  command, 
when  Mr.  Langston  commenced  his  work  in  connection 
with  the  enlistment  of  troops  for  this  regiment,  is  worthy 
of  special  note  here.  Mr.  Stearns  had  sent  to  Ohio  a  young 
white  gentleman  to  assist  in  the  recruitment  of  the  regi- 
ment, who  while  active  and  energetic,  was  a  person  of 
unusual  moderation  and  wisdom.  He  was  especially  suc- 
cessful, as  a  rule,  in  all  errands  of  business  upon  which  he 
might  be  sent  to  any  given  person  or  place.  Of  amiable 
disposition  and  pleasing  manners,  he  soon  won  favor  with 
men  wherever  found,  who  were  inclined  to  enter  the  United 
States  service.  Such  was  his  kindly  treatment  of  every 
colored  person,  that  he  was  not  long,  when  he  had  opportu- 
nity, in  bringing  such  one  to  clear  and  decided  sense  of  his 
duty  in  the  matter  of  his  enlistment.  Learning  of  Holland 
and  his  men  as  situated  in  a  temporary  unofficial  camp  in 
the  Fair  Grounds  of  Athens  County,  near  the  city  of 
Athens,  Ohio,  Mr.  Langston,  desirous  to  secure  their  enlist- 
ment for  the  Ohio  regiment,  sent  the  gentleman  spoken  of, 
his  assistant,  Captain  Dunlop,  to  Athens  to  meet,  confer 
with,  recruit  and  bring  them  at  once  to  Camp  Delaware. 
The  men  werexfound  in  camp  as  stated  ;  but  so  determined 
to  go  to  Massachusetts,  there  enlist  and  be  credited  to  that 
State  as  the  men  of  the  54th  and  55th  Regiments  had  been, 
that  they  would  not  allow  him,  or  any  other  person  to 
enter  their  camp  grounds  to  talk  with  them  of  their  enlist- 
ment in  Ohio.  Captain  Dunlop  was  compelled  to  tele- 
graph these  facts  to  Mr.  Langston,  and  he  was  compelled 
himself  to  go  to  Athens  and  seek  approach  to  Mr.  Holland 
and  his  men  through  special  white  friends  in  whom  they 
had  great  confidence.  No  man  could  reach  the  men  except 
as  he  did  it  through  their  captain,  as  they  called  Mr.  Hol- 
land. He  was  a  young  colored  Texan,  sent  North  and  lo- 
cated as  a  student  at  that  time  in  the  Albany  Colored 
School,  prominent  in  that  part  of  Ohio.  He  was  by  nature 
a  soldier.  He  smelt  battle  from  afar,  and  was  ready  at  the 
shortest  warning  to  engage  in  deadly  conflict.  At  the  time 
he  was  really  a  lad  of  about  nineteen  years  of  age,  with  all 


214       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

the  fire  of  such  youthful,  daring  nature  as  he  possessed  in 
blood  and  by  inheritance.  He  was  a  young  person  of  re- 
markable native  intelligence,  good  name,  bearing  himself 
constantly,  even  among  his  men,  so  as  to  win  the  largest  re- 
spect and  confidence.  The  promise  of  manly  life  and  en- 
deavor were  apparent  in  his  case  on  the  most  casual 
observation  and  contact. 

Mr.  Langston  took  the  precaution  on  reaching  Athens, 
having  learned  somewhat  of  this  young  man  and  of  those  by 
whom  he  was  regarded  and  treated  with  special  considera- 
tion, to  call  upon  the  chief  business  man  of  the  town,  the 
leading  banker,  Mr.  Moore,  a  person  well  known  and  of  the 
greatest  respectability,  to  ascertain  what  he  might  with  respect 
to  him  and  the  men  generally  under  his  control,  and  whether 
the  community  favored  the  recruitment  of  the  state  regi- 
ment of  colored  men.  He  found  that  Mr.  Moore  was 
exactly  the  man  to  answer  every  question  respecting  such 
matters  with  intelligence.  He  was  so  entirely  acquainted 
with  Mr.  Holland  and  the  men  controlled  by  him,  and  had 
such  influence  and  entertained  such  feelings,  that  he  was 
able  and  did  bring  Mr.  Langston  at  once  into  such  relations 
to  all  concerned,  that  the  work  in  view  was  accomplished 
very  speedily  and  with  the  least  possible  difficulty.  He 
even  went  so  far  as  to  put  his  fine  saddle-horse  at  the  dis- 
posal of  Mr.  Langston,  to  ride  to  the  camp  grounds,  a  mile 
away,  and  to  give  him  a  note  of  introduction  which  proved 
wholly  satisfactory  in  securing  the  attention  and  confidence 
of  those  to  be  reached.  It  was  about  five  o'clock  in  the 
afternoon  on  a  beautiful  day  in  June,  and  in  a  section  of  the 
country  famous  for  its  richness  and  delightsome  conditions, 
that  Mr.  Langston,  armed  as  indicated,  approached  the  gate 
of  the  Fair  Grounds  where  he  would  find  the  men  whom  he 
sought.  A  sentinel  was  on  guard,  and  it  was  very  apparent 
that  he  must  be  treated  with  becoming  consideration  and  re- 
spect by  any  one  who  would  through  him  secure  communi- 
cation with  the  commanding  officer.  Such  etiquette  was 
duly  observed,  and  it  was  not  long  before  the  visitor  was 
confronted  at  the  gate  by  the  student-officer  in  command. 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  215 

The  note  of  introduction  was  at  once  presented,  when 
formal  salutations  and  compliments  were  passed,  and  the  two 
persons  up  to  that  time  utter  strangers,  seemed  to  be  wholly 
at  home  with  each  other.  The  errand  of  the  visitor  was 
made  known  with  careful  detail,  and  information  given  that 
no  colored  troops  would  be  sent  from  that  date  to  Massa- 
chusetts from  Ohio,  while  a  regiment  would  be  at  once  re- 
cruited of  such  men  and  duly  credited  to  Ohio.  Upon  this 
statement,  with  the  request  that  he  might  bring  the  subject 
of  their  enlistment  for  the  regiment  to  the  attention  of  his 
men  and  take  their  decision  in  the  premises,  Mr.  Holland 
replied  that  he  would  at  once  consult  with  them,  and  if  he 
found  them  willing  to  do  so  he  would  make  all  the  neces- 
sary arrangements  to  that  end  without  the  least  delay.  He 
retired,  going  to  his  headquarters,  and  within  a  very  few 
minutes  the  fife  and  drum  were  heard  and  the  gathering  of 
the  men  near  headquarters  was  immediately  witnessed. 
Not  tarrying  in  his  movements,  the  young  man  returned, 
and  inviting  Mr.  Langston  in  most  polite  manner  to  enter 
the  camp,  directed  his  sentinel  to  let  him  pass.  Dismount- 
ing, as  conducted  by  Mr.  Holland,  Mr.  Langston  went 
directly  to  the  headquarters,  where  the  men  all  drawn  up  in 
hollow-square  awaited  his  arrival,  and  his  statements  and 
explanations.  The  manner  and  behavior  of  the  young 
colored  officer  during  this  whole  affair  was  that  of  a  youth- 
ful, brave  American,  hopeful  of  an  early  opportunity  to  dis- 
play any  courage  which  he  might  possess  in  a  battle  the 
results  of  which  would  work  the  salvation  of  his  country.  It 
is  enough  to  say  here  that  in  less  than  an  hour  and  a  half 
from  the  time  he  and  Mr.  Langston  exchanged  salutations, 
through  his  good  offices  he  and  his  one  hundred  and  forty- 
nine  men  had  signed  the  recruitment  rolls,  and  had  promised 
to  leave  the  Athens  County  Fair  Grounds  for  Camp  Dela- 
ware the  next  day  at  ten  o'clock  in  the  morning. 

During  the  night  the  good  banker,  Mr.  E.  H.  Moore,  to 
whose  great  kindness  so  much  was  'due  for  any  success 
attending  this  transaction,  sent  in  great  haste  to  Cincinnati, 
to  purchase  a  beautiful  silk  company  flag,  to  be  presented 


216       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

early  on  the  following  morning  to  the  men  as  they  left  their 
camp  grounds,  passing  through  the  city  on  the  way  to  the 
depot  to  take  the  train,  via  Chillicothe,  to  Camp  Delaware. 
The  flag  arrived  in  due  season,  and  was  formally  presented 
with  no  little  falat.  The  men  had  left  the  Fair  Grounds  in 
good  spirit  and  in  fair  general  condition,  and  it  is  not  saying 
too  much  to  state  that  they  made  a  fine  impression  in  their 
parade  and  conduct,  in  the  city  and  upon  the  community. 
The  presentation  speech  was  made  by  a  young  gentleman, 
the  son  of  the  donor  of  the  flag,  Colonel  Moore.  His 
address  was  full  of  stirring  sentiments,  highly  ornate  and 
affecting.  The  response  on  behalf  of  the  men  was  made  by 
Mr.  Langston  himself,  in  such  spirit  and  manner  as  to  gain 
not  only  the  favor  and  applause  of  those  in  whose  name  he 
spoke,  but  the  sympathy  and  good  will  of  the  vast  con- 
course of  loyal  citizens  who  heard  him.  From  Athens 
through  Chillicothe  and  Columbus  to  Camp  Delaware,  such 
were  the  bearing  and  behavior  of  these  men,  that  they  con- 
stantly won  popular  admiration  and  applause.  Throughout 
their  camp  experiences,  labors  and  struggles,  they  main- 
tained, however  tried  and  tested,  unsullied  reputations. 

In  the  charge  at  New  Market  Heights,  the  young  Texan 
student  who  figured  as  described  in  the  Athens  County 
Fair  Grounds,  now  become  a  veteran  in  service  if  not  in  years, 
the  color-sergeant  of  the  regiment,  when  he  had  discovered 
how  his  troops  had  lost  in  the  early  stages  of  the  charge, 
well-nigh  all  its  commissioned  officers,  including  especially 
the  colonel  and  lieutenant-colonel,  under  the  pressure  of 
the  deepest  excitement  and  in  the  purpose  to  achieve  vic- 
tory or  die,  passing  his  colors  to  another  soldier  of  the 
regiment,  took  himself  command  of  Company  C,  of  which 
he  had  been  made  at  first  the  orderly-sergeant,  and  with  it 
led  the  charge,  winning  a  victory  which  brought  not  only 
large  favorable  results  to  the  government,  but  additional 
and  signal  glory  to  American  arms.  It  was  in  this  charge, 
requiring  the  best  elements  of  the  genuine  brave  American 
soldier,  indifferent  to  danger  and  determined  to  snatch  suc- 
cess from  desperate  odds,  that  the  young  colored  men 


RECRUITS  COLORED  TROOPS.  217 

whose  names  have  been  recorded,  won  as  well  their  distinc- 
tion as  their  medals  of  bronze  and  silver. 

In  a  conversation  had  with  Gen.  B.  F.  Butler,  just  after  the 
war  and  his  election  to  the  House  of  Representatives,  in 
speaking  of  the  5th  United  States  colored  troops,  its  colonel 
and  its  behavior  during  its  service,  especially  its  charge  at 
New  Market  Heights,  he  said  in  warm  emphatic  manner  to 
Mr.  Langston,  "  I  had  only  to  command  and  Shurtliff  with 
his  regiment  would  attempt  and  perform  any  feat  of  daring 
and  danger.  He  and  his  men  constituted  the  very  best 
soldierly  material — their  morale  was  of  the  highest  and  best 
character.  The  regiment  was  one  of  the  very  best  of  the 
national  service."  Continuing,  he  said,  "This  regiment 
made  its  celebrated  charge  under  my  observation,  and 
while  every  man  performed  his  duty  with  courage  and 
devotion,  those  to  whom  I  awarded  medals  demeaned  them- 
selves with  such  heroism  as  to  merit  at  once  the  commen- 
dation of  their  commanding  officers  and  the  praise  and 
gratitude  of  the  country.  So  far  as  the  conduct  of  the 
color-sergeant,  Holland,  was  concerned,  in  the  charge  at 
New  Market  Heights,  had  it  been  within  my  powder  I 
would  have  conferred  upon  him  in  view  of  it,  a  brigadier- 
generalship  for  gallantry  on  the  field." 

Recruited  for  three  years,  or  until  the  close  of  the  war, 
this  regiment  having  gained  and  occupied  conspicuous  rank 
among  the'  best  that  had  fought  to  maintain  the  Union, 
preserve  and  sustain  free  institutions,  with  slavery  every- 
where abolished,  returned,  with  victory  perching  on  every 
banner  of  the  national  government,  the  Rebellion  fully 
suppressed,  without  a  blemish  on  name  or  character,  distin- 
guished for  the  glory  which  its  patriotism  and  courage  had 
won.  It  went  to  Camp  Chase,  Ohio,  where  with  seven 
hundred  of  its  original  recruits,  it  was  mustered  out  of  the 
service,  October  5th,  1865. 


CHAPTER  XVI. 

HIS   FIRST  OFFICIAL  ERRAND   TO  THE  NATIONAL  CAPITAL. 

ABRAHAM  LINCOLN  had  been  elected  president  of  the 
United  States  for  the  second  time.  Andrew  Johnson  had 
been  elected  vice-president.  Both  had  been  inaugurated 
and  had  entered  upon  the  duties  of  their  respective  offices. 
Grant,  the  great  Captain  of  the  century,  the  commanding 
officer  of  the  American  army,  still  confronted  the  leader  of 
the  Confederate  forces,  and  not  even  the  matchless  secretary 
of  war,  Stanton  himself,  could  say  that  the  close  of  the 
bloody  contest  was  at  hand,  and  peace  must  soon  be  declared, 
with  victory  gained  by  the  national  soldiery.  To  the 
common  observer  it  seemed  as  if  war  must  still  be  waged. 
Notwithstanding  two  years  and  more  had  passed,  since  on 
the  first  day  of  January,  1863,  the  Emancipation  Proclama- 
tion had  been  issued,  the  forces  of  the  Confederacy  continued 
their  defiance  of  the  government,  and  in  numbers,  purpose 
and  courage,  seemed  far  from  defeat  and  general  surrender. 

It  was  under  such  circumstances  that  Mr.  Langston,  after 
he  had  completed  his  services  in  the  recruitment  of  colored 
troops  for  the  regiments  of  Massachusetts  and  Ohio,  made 
his  first  official  visit  to  Washington  city.  It  is  to  be  added, 
that  wherever  opportunity  had  been  given,  all  along  the 
lines  of  battle,  the  colored  troops,  in  whatsoever  service  they 
were  engaged,  had  demonstrated  their  possession  of  all  those 
elements  of  obedience,  endurance,  fortitude,  loyalty,  enthu- 
218 


FIRST  OFFICIAL  VISIT  TO  WASHINGTON.         219 

siasm  and  devotion,  always  deemed  necessary  in  the  highest" 
and  best  type  of  the  reliable  and  worthy  soldier.  Up  to 
this  time,  two  colored  men  only,  had  been  given  commis- 
sions as  regular  officers  of  the  national  army.  Martin  R. 
Delaney  and  Orindatus  S.  B.  Wall  were  the  persons  who 
had  thus  been  signally  honored.  The  first  bore  the  com- 
mission of  major,  the  second  that  of  captain.  Both  had 
been  given  duty  in  connection  with  the  recruitment  of 
colored  troops.  They  had  not  at  this  time  been  assigned 
to  service,  either  in  a  company  or  regiment,  according  to 
their  official  designations.  It  is  true,  too,  that  the  large 
number  of  non-commissioned  officers  found  in  the  various 
regiments  of  colored  troops,  had  not  only  demonstrated 
excellent  military  capacity  and  aptness,  but  great  general 
warlike  knowledge,  coolness  and  decision  in  the  midst  of 
emergency  and  danger,  as  well  as  readiness  and  alacrity  in 
the  discharge  of  their  duties,  however  manifold  and  trying. 
The  government  had  discovered,  certainly,  that  they  com- 
posed a  loyal  military  corps,  worthy  of  every  confidence,  in 
view  of  their  intelligence,  patriotism  and  devotion,  and  that 
their  instruction,  drill  and  experience  must  have  fitted  them 
for  any  official  position  or  duty  to  which  they  might  be 
called.  This,  without  doubt,  was  true  of  a  very  considerable 
number,  at  least,  of  such  officers. 

Mr.  Langston's  errand  was  indeed  official;  but  he  had 
not  made  a  journey  to  the  capital  to  ask  for  an  ordinary 
place  under  the  new  administration.  Nor  was  he  seeking 
a  position  free  from  responsibility  and  danger.  The  civil 
service  may  have  been  inviting  to  persons  far  more  intelli- 
gent, patriotic  and  worthy ;  but  his  attention  and  desires 
were  not  directed  to  anything  connected  therewith.  He 
had  come  at  his  own  expense,  moved  by  patriotic  consider- 
ations, to  say  to  President  Lincoln  and  Secretary  Stanton 
that  the  time  had  arrived,  in  view  of  the  intelligence,  ex- 
perience, loyalty  and  service  of  the  colored  troops,  for  the 
commission  of  a  colored  man  to  a  colonelcy  in  the  national 
service,  with  authority  to  recruit  his  own  regiment  and  to 
officer  it  with  colored  men  taken  from  regiments  already  in 


220       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

the  service  and  who  had  given  evidence  of  high  soldierly 
qualities  on  the  field  of  battle.  Upon  his  visit  with  this 
mission  in  view,  he  being  well  acquainted  with  and  the 
friend  of  Gen.  James  A.  Garfield,  then  a  member  of  Con- 
gress, having  left  the  field  to  serve  his  constituents  and  the 
people  generally  in  that  capacity,  Mr.  Langston  went  di- 
rectly to  him  to  seek  his  good  offices  in  introducing  him 
properly  to  the  secretary  of  war,  and  his  counsel  and  ad- 
vice with  respect  to  and  approval  of  his  plan.  He  found 
the  young,  magnificent  representative  of  Ohio,  and  the  bril- 
liant general  who  had  won  such  enviable  note  and  name 
through  his  masterly  deeds  upon  the  field,  not  only  willing 
to  do  what  he  asked,  but  patient  to  hear  and  counsel  him 
with  respect  to  his  novel  but  important  proposition.  He 
was  prompt,  earnest  and  enthusiastic  in  his  approval,  and 
without  the  least  hesitation  conducted  his  colored  Ohio 
friend,  with  whom  he  seemed  specially  pleased,  for  intro- 
duction to  the  prince  of  military  secretaries,  whose  frown  or 
approval  had  dismayed  or  delighted  so  many  aspirants  for 
high  maftial  position  and  responsibility.  Indeed,  such 
were  the  appearance,  manner,  address  and  bearing  of  this 
great  secretary  to  the  ordinary  visitor,  that  even  the  brav- 
est of  his  fellow-citizens  approached  him  with  anxiety  and 
manifestations  of  timidity.  Not  so,  however,  with  Garfield. 
He  was  a  brave  and  fearless  man  ;  always  bold,  clear  and 
positive  in  the  advocacy  of  any  measure  or  individual  in 
whose  promotion  and  interest  he  desired  to  exercise  his 
judgment  and  efforts. 

General  Garfield,  in  the  introduction  which  he  made  of 
his  friend  to  Secretary  Stanton,  did  not  hesitate  to  speak  of 
him  in  most  favorable  terms,  dwelling  in  warmest  approval 
upon  his  character,  his  ability,  his  loyalty,  and  his  valuable 
services  rendered  in  the  recruitment  of  troops  for  the  54th 
and  55th  Massachusetts  regiments,  the  5th  United  States 
colored  troops;  his  employment  of  a  substitute  for  himself 
for  the  service,  when  in  no  wise  exposed  to  draft,  or  any 
enforced  military  duty,  and  other  evidences  furnished'in  his 
conduct,  showing  his  devotion  to  the  government  and  its 


FIRST  OFFICIAL  VISIT  TO  WASHINGTON.         221 

support.  He  also  dwelt  in  earnest,  intelligent,  patriotic 
words  upon  the  wisdom,  dignity,  propriety  and  advantage 
which  characterized  and  would  be  the  natural  results  fol- 
lowing the  adoption  of  the  proposition  submitted  for  the 
recruitment  and  organization  of  an  entirely  colored  regi- 
ment. He  did  not  hesitate  to  affirm  that  the  government 
might  expect  on  the  part  of  such  a  regiment,  conduct  of  the 
highest  soldierlike  character,  with  the  largest  measure  of 
advantageous  signal  effects.  Upon  this  representation,  in 
connection  with  such  favorable  introduction  to  the  secre- 
tary, who  was  himself  a  citizen  of  Ohio,  it  was  under  the 
circumstances  entirely  natural  that  both  the  originator  of 
the  proposition  and  the  proposition  itself  should  secure 
favorable  consideration.  The  secretary  even  went  so  far  as 
to  express  his  own  pleasure  in  view  of  what  might  be  made, 
under  wise  direction  and  management,  important  results  of 
the  enterprise  suggested,  and  was  pleased  to  request  Gen- 
eral Garfield  to  go  directly  with  Mr.  Langston  to  Colonel 
Foster,  who  was  at  the  time  in  charge  of  the  recruitment  of 
all  colored  troops,  and  explain  to  him  upon  introduction  of 
his  friend  the  measure  proposed.  He  assured  General 
Garfield  that  if  upon  thorough  examination  of  the  matter 
by  the  proper  officer  of  his  department,  it  was  found  to  be 
feasible  and  probably  advantageous,  he  should  approve  it. 
The  visit  to  Colonel  Foster  was  in  no  sense  less  agreeable 
than  that  to  his  chief  officer,  and  his  appreciation  of  the 
proposition  and  its  author,  with  whom  he  seemed  to  be  well 
acquainted  by  report,  was  not  less  hearty  and  cordial.  So 
soon  as  Colonel  Foster  had  the  matter  suitably  explained, 
he  promised  that  it  should  have  his  serious,  prompt  atten- 
tion, and  without  delay  he  would  present  his  conclusions 
and  decision  in  due  form  to  the  secretary,  so  that  General 
Garfield  and  Mr.  Langston  could  hear  from  the  department 
upon  the  subject  without  any  unnecessary  delay.  Pleased 
with  their  visits  and  interviews  with  these  distinguished 
military  officials,  General  Garfield  and  Mr.  Langston  sepa- 
rated, with  the  belief  firmly  settled  in  their  minds  that  this 
new  proposition  for  the  military  advancement  of  the  col- 
'5 


222       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

ored  troops,  which  must  give  them  ample  opportunity  for 
the  display  of  any  military  genius  and  original  prowess 
which  they  possessed,  led  and  commanded  by  officers  of 
their  own  nationality  and  complexion,  would  receive  the 
sanction  and  approval  of  the  authorities. 

Mr.  Langston  remained  in  the  city  of  Washington  while 
this  matter  was  held  under  consideration.  He  was  in  the 
city  when  Gen.  Robert  E.  Lee  made  his  surrender  on  the 
ninth  of  April,  1865,  and  the  Rebellion  was  thus  brought  to 
a  hurried  overthrow  and  its  armies  to  utter  defeat.  Other 
and  additional  troops  were  no  longer  needed.  Those  in  the 
service  must  be  soon  mustered  out  and  return  to  their 
homes.  For  this  reason  the  department  very  properly  con- 
cluded not  to  adopt  the  measure  suggested,  and  accordingly 
communicated  its  decision  to  that  effect,  shortly  after  the 
surrender,  to  those  concerned. 

Perhaps  no  proposition  of  any  character  whatever  so 
deeply  and  thoroughly  interested  Mr.  Langston  as  this  one. 
He  always  felt  that  in  it  he  saw  the  complete  redemption 
of  the  colored  American  from  every  proscription,  legal  and 
social ;  as  he  might  make,  upon  his  own  original  force  of 
character  and  courage,  a  record  thereby  on  the  field  of 
battle  and  in  the  shedding  of  his  own  blood  in  defence  of 
the  government  and  the  country,  which  would  emancipate 
him  from  every  distinction  felt  and  made  against  him.  It 
was  an  opportunity  of  rare  good  fortune  for  him  to  be 
called,  to  the  number  of  one  hundred  and  eighty  thousand, 
to  fight  with  his  fellow-citizens  the  battles  of  the  country, 
though  commanded  by  officers  of  another  nationality  and 
color.  It  would  have  been,  however,  immensely  more  ad- 
vantageous to  him,  redounding  to  his  lasting  good,  in  a  more 
just  and  considerate  appreciation  of  his  character  and  deeds, 
could  he  have  engaged  in  battle  for  the  country,  led  and 
commanded  by  those  who  bore  his  own  lineage  and  image. 
Another  great  fearful  emergency  of  the  government  may 
bring  him  such  opportunity.  If  so  his  salvation,  as  indicated, 
need  not  be  despaired  of,  for  it  shall  come,  thus,  certainly; 
even  though  greatly  delayed.  The  experiences  of  this,  like 


FIRST  OFFICIAL  VISIT  TO  WASHINGTON.         223 

all  other  governments  which  have  been  established  by  man, 
are  signalized  throughout  their  existence  by  urgent  and 
pressing  occasions  of  trial  and  struggle,  which  require  the 
devotion  and  service  of  all  good  citizens,  and  in  view  of 
duty  well  and  thoroughly  done  under  such  circumstances, 
the  loyal  and  true  who  demonstrate  ability  and  worth  may 
make  sure  of  their  reward,  in  equal  impartial  justice  and 
fair  equitable  treatment. 

It  was  during  Mr.  Langston's  sojourn  in  the  capital  at 
this  time,  that  the  horror  of  horrors  took  place.  Two  nights 
before,  he  had  stood  with  the  multitude  looking  into  the 
face  and  listening  to  the  words  of  the  president,  who  while 
he  spoke  like  a  prophet,  reminding  one  of  the  ancient 
Samuel  as  he  called  the  people  to  witness  his  integrity,  lit- 
tle dreamed  that  any  man  in  the  whole  land  could  be 
found  base  and  cowardly  enough  to  do  him  harm.  His 
words  seem  now  in  view  of  his  assassination  so  soon  to  fol- 
low, those  of  warning,  admonition  and  counsel,  grave  and 
thrilling  to  his  countrymen.  How,  without  the  least  sus- 
picion of  danger  to  her  husband,  sat  his  good  wife  near  him, 
apparently  conscious  in  highest  and  profoundest  sense  of 
the  estimate  and  value  put  by  the  people  upon  his  services. 
For  he  was  now  a  statesman  without  an  equal ;  a  leader,  as 
grand  in  the  immense  proportions  of  his  individuality  as 
Moses  himself ;  an  emancipator  of  a  race  redeemed  through 
the  wise  and  sagacious  adjustment  of  those  moral  and  legal 
forces  which  constitute  the  glory  of  American  Christian 
civilization,  and  the  savior  of  a  country  which  shall  be  at 
last  the  theater  where  shall  be  displayed  the  golden,  pre- 
cious drama  of  man's  truest  and  noblest  life  and  triumphs  in 
freedom  as  conserved,  promoted  and  sustained  by  impartial 
law.  But  the  evil  hour  made  haste,  and  the  great  city  of 
his  presidential  residence,  as  well  as  the  whole  country,  was 
startled  and  shocked  with  the  announcement  of  the  assassi- 
nation of  the  immortal  Abraham  Lincoln. 

Mr.  Wade  Hickman  of  Nashville,  Tennessee,  in  Washing- 
ton city  at  the  time  as  the  body-servant  of  Vice-president 
Andrew  Johnson,  brought  the  sad  tidings  of  the  occur- 


224       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

rence  to  Mr.  Langston.  Coming  to  his  hotel  he  called 
upon  him,  not  only  to  bring  that  information,  but  to 
declare  his  purpose  to  allow  no  human  being  inimical  to, 
or  having  designs  upon,  his  life,  to  reach  the  vice-president, 
except  as  he  did  so  over  his  dead  body.  The  night  of  the 
terrible  tragedy  in  Washington  city  was  full  of  awful  ter- 
rors, well-calculated  to  inspire  one  of  the  natural  courage 
and  devotion  of  Hickman  to  make  this  resolution  and 
express  it  in  his  emphatic,  positive  terms.  Besides,  there 
was  danger,  as  it  seemed  to  him,  that  he  might  that  night, 
in  his  attempt  to  protect  and  defend  the  vice-president, 
lose  his  own  life.  Hence  he  expressed  the  earnest  request 
to  Mr.  Langston  that  should  he  fall  in  this  work,  which  was 
to  him  serious  and  imperative,  that  he  would  make  known 
to  his  family  and  his  friends  in  Tennessee  that  he  had 
fallen  in  meeting  attack  against  a  man  who  was  then 
regarded  as  the  friend  of  every  negro  in  his  State.  Mr. 
Langston  made  faithful  promise  to  his  friend  that  he  would 
discharge  the  duty  enjoined,  should  there  come  necessity  for 
so  doing,  with  fidelity  and  truth.  Fortunately  however  for 
the  country,  the  vice-president  was  spared,  and  the  brave 
negro  who  was  at  once  his  servant  and  his  friend,  though 
faithful  as  devoted,  was  not  called  to  die  in  defence  of  the 
successor  of  the  murdered  president. 

Mr.  Langston,  as  early  as  November,  1864,  had  been  in- 
vited by  the  colored  people  of  Nashville,  Tennessee,  to  visit 
and  address  them  on  the  second  day  of  January,  1865,  when 
tliey  with  their  fellow-citizens  would  celebrate  the  anniver- 
sary of  the  Proclamation  of  Emancipation,  issued  by  Presi- 
dent Lincoln,  January  1st,  1863.  Now,  for  the  first  time  in 
the  history  of  the  race  so  far  as  the  South  was  concerned, 
the  colored  people  were  to  hold  their  meeting  in  the  hall  of 
the  House  of  Representatives  of  the  state  capitol.  Such 
high  privilege  had  been  accorded  them  through  the  influ- 
ence of  Hon.  Andrew  Johnson,  who  was  then  military 
governor  of  the  State.  Just  before  this  time,  in  addressing 
this  class  of  his  fellow-citizens,  he  had  declared  could  they 
find  no  other  he  would  be  their  Moses  ;  and  accordingly  he 


FIRST  OFFICIAL  VISIT  TO  WASHINGTON.         225 

treated  them  with  such  consideration  and  kindness,  as  to 
win  their  respect  and  confidence.  When,  therefore,  Mr. 
Langston  debated  the  question  as  to  his  safety  should  he 
accept  the  invitation  given  and  speak  as  requested,  on  mak- 
ing known  his  fears  in  such  regard  to  his  friends  in  Nash- 
ville, they  secured  and  sent  him  a  letter  from  Governor 
Johnson,  in  which  he  was  assured  of  complete  and  entire 
protection,  with  the  opportunity  and  privilege  of  the  largest 
freedom  of  expression.  Accordingly  the  invitation  was  ac- 
cepted, and  on  the  last  day  of  December,  1864,  Mr.  Lang- 
ston arrived  in  Nashville,  where  he  was  met  by  a  committee 
of  leading  colored  men,  among  whom  was  found  Mr.  Wade 
Hickman,  here  mentioned.  His  reception  was,  though 
formal,  distinguished  by  every  mark  of  high  personal  consid- 
eration and  was  most  cordial  and  agreeable.  He  was  at 
once  presented  to  the  governor,  who  welcomed  him  in  kind 
terms,  and  bade  him  to  rest  assured  of  entire  protection 
and  freedom  from  the  least  molestation.  At  the  same  time 
he  bade  him  to  exercise  in  his  address  the  largest  freedom  of 
sentiment  and  expression.  More  ;  he  added  that  he  should 
be  at  the  meeting  himself,  and  expected  to  hear  a  speech 
which  would  justify  the  high  hopes  of  those  who  were  the 
promoters  of  and  specially  interested  in  the  meeting. 

At  this  time  Nashville,  so  soon  after  the  memorable 
battle  had  there  between  Generals  Thomas  and  Hood,  was 
full  of  troops,  with  their  officers,  a  gallant  dashing  set  of 
men,  making  even  the  community  brilliant  as  well  as  lively 
by  their  presence.  In  a  great  audience,  filling  a  hall  like 
that  of  the  House  of  Representatives,  their  attendance,  as 
they  came  attired  in  full  military  dress,  gave  a  striking  im- 
pression and  dazzling  appearance  to  the  assembly.  The 
meeting  was  large  and  imposing,  and  besides  being  honored 
by  a  conspicuous  array  of  military  characters,  was  made 
noteworthy  by  the  presence  of  the  governor  himself.  No 
more  interested  and  attentive  auditor  gave  the  orator  of  the 
occasion  his  respectful  consideration.  The  whole  day  had 
been  spent  in  public  exercises,  including  a  grand,  enthusias- 
tic parade,  which  so  impressed  the  whole  community  as  to 


226       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

give  great  popular  eclat  to  the  immense  gathering  which 
took  place  as  described,  in  the  evening  at  the  capitol.  Mr. 
Langston  was  greatly  flattered  by  the  attentions  paid  him 
by  the  governor,  and  was  moved  with  special  gratitude 
towards  him,  when  after  he  had  thanked  him  for  and  con- 
gratulated him  upon  his  address,  he  invited  him  urgently 
to  call  at  his  office  the  next  morning,  saying  as  he  did  so, 
he  had  a  service  which  he  desired  that  he  should  per- 
form. Before  the  one  addressed  could  make  reply,  the 
great  committee  composed  of  Henry  Harding,  James  Sum- 
ner,  Buck  Lewis,  Abraham  Smith,  William  C.  Napier,  Wade 
Hickman  and  others,  answered  through  their  chairman, 
"  He  shall  call  according  to  your  request  and  we  know  he 
will  be  glad  to  do  your  bidding."  Accordingly,  as  con- 
ducted by  the  committee,  at  eleven  o'clock  on  the  morning 
of  the  third  day  of  January,  Mr.  Langston  visited  the  gov- 
ernor to  learn  that  he  did  really  have  a  service  of  the  most 
interesting  and  remarkable  character,  which  he  asked  him 
to  perform.  Delicate  and  peculiar  as  the  service  was,  Mr. 
Langston  suggested  respectfully  that  there  was  so  much 
that  seemed  to  him  to  be  official  connected  with  the  matter, 
that  he  felt  that  no  one  could  take  the  place  of  the  gov- 
ernor in  its  performance.  To  which  he  answered,  saying 
that  while  he  appreciated  the  suggestion,  he  was  not  so 
far  the  master  of  his  feelings  as  to  trust  himself  in  any 
attempt  to  perform  it,  and  hence  begged  Mr.  Langston  to 
render  him  the  help  which  he  needed.  This  appeal  secured 
the  expected  assent. 

Thereupon  Governor  Johnson  proceeded  to  inform  Mr. 
Langston  and  the  committee  in  substance  how  in  the  late 
fight  between  Thomas  and  Hood,  thirty  thousand  raw  negro 
recruits  had  been  employed  on  the  part  of  the  government ; 
that  they  were  so  located  in  the  line  of  battle  that  it  was 
possible  for  the  Confederate  general  to  bring  to  bear  upon 
them  his  heaviest  guns,  and  that  he  did  so,  feeling  doubtless, 
that  they  constituted  the  weak  point  in  the  line,  which  if 
carried  by  him  would  certainly  bring  him  victory  and  make 
his  march  through  Tennessee  and  Kentucky  to  Ohio,  a 


FIRST  OFFICIAL  VISIT  TO  WASHINGTON.         227 

practicable  result.  He  added  that  charge  after  charge  was 
made  upon  these  men,  who  reformed  and  took  their  places 
in  firm  position  after  each  one,  until  in  the  last  when  vic- 
tory was  brought  though  indescribable  slaughter  to  the 
forces  of  the  government.  They  fought  in  many  cases  stand- 
ing upon  their  comrades,  wounded,  dying  and  dead,  in 
heaps.  The  exhibition  of  courage,  fortitude,  coolness  and 
determination  on  their  part,  he  claimed  had  not  been  sur- 
passed by  Roman,  French,  English,  or  American  troops, 
under  any  circumstances,  however  well  drilled  and  fitted  for 
service.  Continuing,  he  said  he  had  wept,  as  in  anxious, 
fearful  mind,  he  witnessed  their  conduct,  praying  meantime, 
that  in  the  manly  stand  which  they  might  maintain,  they 
would  prove  themselves  the  saviors  of  their  country. 
Leaving  the  field  in  victory  ten  thousand  only  survived  this 
terrible  shock  of  arms.  He  said,  "  The  ten  thousand  survi- 
vors are  in  camp  upon  the  outskirts  of  this  city.  I  want  you, 
Mr.  Langston,  to  go  to  their  camp,  and  in  the  name  of  the 
government  and  the  country,  as  I  request  you,  to  thank 
those  men  for  their  matchless  services.  Tell  them  that  I 
do  not  come  myself,  because  I  could  not  face  them  without 
such  feelings  as  woulcj  render  me  wholly  incapable  of 
addressing  them.  My  feelings  would  entirely  overcome 
me." 

Arrangements  were  duly  made,  under  the  direction  of 
Major  Dewey,  of  one  of  the  colored  regiments  referred  to, 
and  Mr.  Langston  in  obedience  to  the  request  indicated, 
addressed  the  ten  thousand  colored  troops  with  their 
officers.  No  attempt  shall  be  made  to  describe  the  sight 
and  impression  afforded  and  made  in  the  presence  of  these 
black  heroes,  who  had  won  such  distinction  in  the  service 
of  their  country.  It  is  enough  to  say  that  Mr.  Langston 
used  from  the  United  States  wagon  which  constituted  his 
platform,  as  he  stood  before  them  gathered  in  hollow-square 
after  military  fashion,  such  words  and  expressions  as 
seemed  under  the  circumstances  to  be  befitting.  And  yet 
all  that  he  said  seemed  tame  and  lifeless  in  the  presence  of 
the  manly  deeds  and  achievements  of  the  soldiers,  who  had 


228        FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

served  in  such  signal  manner  the  government  and  the 
country.  As  he  closed  and  was  conducted  and  supported 
upon  the  tongue  of  the  wagon  to  the  ground,  among  others, 
officers  and  men,  who  saluted  him  in  cordial  complimentary 
terms,  was  an  aged  black  man,  clothed  in  the  garb  of  a 
corporal.  He  was  a  person  far  advanced  in  years,  with  hair 
as  white  as  the  snow  which  slightly  covered  the  earth. 
There  was  however  no  bend  in  his  body  and  no  dimness 
in  his  eye.  Erect,  quick  and  easy  in  his  bearing,  he  looked 
the  perfection  of  the  soldier.  His  address  to  Mr.  Langston 
was  of  familiar  fatherly  sort.  For  he  employed  towards 
him  these  words  :  "  John,  how  are  you  ?  "  To  which  reply 
was  made  :  "  You  have  the  advantage  of  me."  "  Oh,  yes," 
said  he,  "  greatly  the  advantage.  For  when  you  did  not 
weigh  ten  pounds,  I  held  you  in  the  hollow  of  this  hand. 
I  knew  your  mother  when  she  first  came  upon  Quarle's 
plantation,  in  Louisa  County,  Virginia.  I  knew  your  half- 
brother  William  and  his  two  sisters,  and  your  brothers, 
Gideon  and  Charles.  Yes,  I  have  the  advantage  of  you." 
These  words  came  to  Mr.  Langston  as  if  from  the  "vasty 
deep,"  and  from  one  who  had  known  him  as  he  had  never 
known  himself.  To  them  all,  astonished  as  he  was  to  find 
a  man  of  such  age  in  the  service,  he  inquired,  "  What,  sir, 
are  you  doing  here  ?  "  He  answered,  "  John,  I  have  entered 
the  service  to  fight  until  there  is  no  more  slavery  in  this 
land."  To  this  the  statement  came,  "You  never  were  a 
slave!"  He  quickly  answered,  "Always  a  slave,  John, 
always  a  slave ;  but  always  a  fugitive  slave ! "  His  look 
and  manner  showed  this  to  be  true.  For  his  air  and 
address  were  those  of  full  consciousness  of  the  dignity  of 
his  manhood.  Mr.  Langston  bade  him  good-bye,  and  as  he 
turned  away,  Major  Dewey  said  to  his  companion,  "  That 
is  the  greatest  man  and  the  most  influential  of  all  the 
troops  and  the  officers  gathered  here.  His  words  inspirited 
and  encouraged  the  men  in  the  late  great  fight,  making 
them  firm,  cool  and  reliable."  The  fugitive  slave  of  Louisa 
County,  once  so  feared,  whose  visit  so  terrified  Uncle  Billy, 
had  thus  become  a  leader  and  hero  of  his  race  and  his 
country  ! 


FIRST  OFFICIAL  VISIT  TO  WASHINGTON.         229 

The  report  of  this  wonderful  proceeding  characterized  by 
flattering  words  of  Major  Dewey,  with  respect  to  Mr. 
Langston's  address  made  in  the  name  of  the  President  of 
the  United  States  and  the  Governor  of  Tennessee  specially, 
proved  to  be  wholly  satisfactory  and  agreeable  to  Governor 
Johnson. 

Plaving  made  the  acquaintance,  personally,  of  the  distin- 
guished military  governor  of  Tennessee,  under  such  unusual 
and  agreeable  circumstances,  and  having  found  Mr.  Hick- 
man,  as  indicated,  near  to  him,  in  the  intimate  and  respon- 
sible relations  of  his  trusted  servant  and  friend,  it  was 
entirely  natural  that  Mr.  Langston,  who  had  supported 
Andrew  Johnson  upon  the  National  Republican  ticket  for 
the  vice-presidency,  should  have  been  greatly  pleased  at 
his  meeting  both  such  persons,  as  described,  at  the  national 
capital.  The  circumstances,  as  the  same  concerned  the  as- 
sassination of  the  president,  were  grievous  beyond  expression, 
and  moved  by  sentiments  of  the  most  exalted  consideration 
and  the  deepest  sorrow,  he  delayed  his  sojourn  in  the  capital 
to  witness  the  funeral  ceremonies  of  a  citizen  whose  name, 
though  he  be  dead,  is  more  synomymous  and  typical  of  the 
great  principles  of  American  civilization,  as  illustrated  in 
great  names  and  great  moral,  heroic  deeds,  than  any  other, 
save  perhaps  that  of  Washington  himself.  With  respect  to 
his  funeral  cortege,  a  single  occurrence  was  witnessed  which 
bore  the  most  profound  and  interesting  signification.  Entire 
preparation  had  been  made,  even  to  the  location  of  all 
troops  to  take  part  on  this  occasion  in  the  parade,  which, 
if  ever  surpassed  in  numbers,  was  never  in  dignity,  conduct 
and  effect.  At  the  last  moment,  however,  a  negro  regiment 
arrived,  coming  to  the  capital  from  tidewater  Virginia.  Its 
arrival  was  barely  in  season  to  be  given  place  at  the  head  of 
the  procession,  to  do,  in  fact,  the  honor  and  sacred  service 
of  bearing  the  coffin  of  the  great  emancipator  from  the 
hearse  to  the  catafalque,  the  temporary  resting-place  in  the 
rotunda  of  the  capitol.  Such  services,  so  honorable  and 
sacred,  were  to  have  been  performed  by  others.  An  Allwise 
Providence,  however,  so  adjusted  the  order  of  affairs,  as  to 


230       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

give  this  high  privilege  to  the  representatives  of  the  four 
millions  whom  he  had  emancipated.  If  ever  fitness,  moral 
propriety  was  seen  under  like  circumstances,  it  was  here  fully 
realized,  and  can  but  be  duly  appreciated.  Mr.  Langston's 
heart  was  big  with  gratitude,  his  soul  filled  with  thanksgiv- 
ing, as  standing  near  the  southwest  corner  of  the  capitol,  he 
saw  the  proud  negro  regiment  leading  the  line  of  march 
down  Pennsylvania  Avenue,  up  Capitol  Hill,  to  the  east 
door  of  the  building,  where,  as  the  procession  halted,  its 
representatives  were  permitted  to  bear,  with  tenderest  care 
and  silent  affection,  the  mighty  dead  to  his  resting-place  in 
state. 

He  prolonged  his  stay  in  Washington  even  a  little  longer 
that  he  might  witness  the  results  of  the  change  in  the  gov- 
ernment connected  with  the  induction  of  the  vice-president 
to  the  presidency  of  the  United  States.  The  orderly, 
peaceful  accomplishment  of  this  result  was  regarded  with 
profound  anxiety  and  interest  by  every  intelligent  citizen. 
This  is  always  the  case  even  in  ordinary  times.  But  under 
the  circumstances,  so  unusual  and  stirring,  popular  and  in- 
dividual solicitude  was  excited  profoundly  and  generally. 
However,  all  was  done  without  the  least  disturbance  or  jar 
in  the  government  machinery,  complicated  and  delicate  as 
it  is,  and  all  moved  on  smoothly  and  harmoniously,  ac- 
complishing naturally  the  usual  important  interests  of  the 
country.  Before  President  Johnson  had  taken  possession 
of  the  White  House,  while  he  occupied  for  official  purposes 
quarters  in  the  Treasury  Building,  Mr.  Langston  as  chair- 
man of  a  committee  of  colored  men  duly  appointed  and  or- 
ganized, waited  upon  the  new  president,  and,  in  behalf  of 
the  colored  people  of  the  nation,  expressed  their  hope  that 
in  him  they  would  find  a  ruler,  who  like  his  predecessor, 
would  see  to  it  that  every  law  which  concerned  their  wel- 
fare was  duly  executed,  and  they  protected  and  supported 
in  the  full  measure  of  all  those  rights  and  privileges  which 
pertain  to  American  citizenship.  In  his  answer  to  this  ad- 
dress the  president  was  earnest  and  positive  in  the  promise 
that  his  colored  fellow-citizens  should  find  in  him  a  friend 


FIRST  OFFICIAL  VISIT  TO  WASHINGTON.        231 

mindful  always  of  their  welfare,  and  vigilant  and  vigorous  in 
the  execution  of  every  law  which  had  been  enacted  in  their 
behalf.  Besides,  he  assured  the  committee  that  to  the  ex- 
tent of  his  ability  and  influence  as  the  chief  executive  of 
the  national  government,  he  should  exert  himself  to  fix 
and  entrench  the  abolition  of  slavery  with  the  general  en- 
franchisement of  the  colored  citizen  in  suitable  amendment 
of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States.  The  impres- 
sions made  by  this  meeting  upon  the  minds  of  the  commit- 
tee were  entirely  favorable  to  President  Johnson,  and  all 
left  him  with  expressions  of  sincere,  hearty  good  wishes  for 
the  success  of  his  administration. 


CHAPTER  XVII. 

HIS  EARLY  LABORS  AND  OBSERVATIONS  AMONG  THE  FREED 
PEOPLE. 

THE  colored  American  had  hardly  been  made  free,  the 
War  of  the  Rebellion  had  not  been  closed,  when  Mr.  Lang- 
ston  commenced  his  travels  among  the  freed  people.  Thus, 
he  gained  broad  and  minute  observation  at  once  of  their  act- 
ual condition  and  probable  future.  On  his  visit  to  Nashville, 
Tennessee,  made  in  the  last  days  of  1864,  he  had  reached 
Louisville,  Kentucky,  where  his  friends  were  outspoken  and 
positive  in  their  belief  and  assertion  that  it  would  be  im- 
possible for  him  to  go  in  safety  by  train  from  that  city  to 
the  former,  to  which  he  had  been  invited,  and  urged  him 
not  to  attempt  the'  trip.  Up  to  the  day  on  which  he 
proposed  to  make  that  journey,  few  trains  of  cars  had 
passed  over  the  road  going  southward  which  had  not  been 
interrupted  by  Bushwackers,  and  in  many  cases  thrown 
from  the  track,  while  the  passengers  were  generally  robbed 
and  not  infrequently  treated  in  violent,  abusive  manner. 
He  was  not  intimidated  nor  discouraged  by  these  repre- 
sentations and  facts,  although  they  did  create  in  his  mind 
great  anxiety  and  some  fear.  When  it  was  found  that  he 
was  full)'1  decided  to  go,  a  friend  of  his,  a  colored  man,  well 
acquainted  with  that  section  of  the  country,  and,  hence,  a 
person  fully  conscious  of  the  danger  about  to  be  incurred, 
determined  to  take  the  train  with  him,  carrying  his  carpet- 
232 


EARLY  LABORS  AMONG  THE  FREED  PEOPLE.   233 

sack,  with  all  his  papers,  into  the  smoking  car,  while  Mr. 
Langston  should  take  his  seat  in  the  regular  car  provided 
for  ladies  and  gentlemen.  Leaving  Louisville  accordingly, 
the  journey  was  made  from  city  to  city  on  the  usual  time, 
with  all  necessary  stops  made  on  the  way  and  without  any 
disturbance  to  the  train.  Numberless  wrecks  of  great  trains, 
passenger  and  freight,  were  seen  in  passing,  thrown  from 
the  track.  The  train  bearing  Mr.  Langston  and  his  brave 
Kentucky  negro  friend,  as  indicated,  arrived  for  the  first 
time  for  months,  as  due  at  the  depot  in  Nashville. 
Both  were  roundly  congratulated  by  their  friends  upon 
this  fortunate,  though  then  uncommon  result.  The  coura- 
geous conduct  of  Mr.  William  Howard  in  this  case,  merits 
special  grateful  mention,  and  shall  never  be  forgotten  nor 
neglected  by  the  one  whose  interest  he  sought  to  protect 
and  sustain  at  such  danger  and  risk  to  himself.  No  exam- 
ple is  furnished  in  the  history  of  the  colored  people  of  the 
country,  where  one  of  their  own  number,  moved  by  consid- 
erations respecting  the  welfare  of  another,  shows  larger 
manly,  heroic  behavior.  Let  the  name  of  that  person  be 
written  in  enduring  golden  characters. 

It  was  at  this  time  and  in  this  manner  that  Mr.  Langston 
made  his  first  general  trip  of  observation  of  the  colored 
people  of  the  South,  just  now  coming  out  of  slavery  and 
entering  upon  their  new  life  of  freedom  in  this  country. 
Perhaps  no  better  arrangement  could  have  been  made  to 
secure  from  the  very  beginning  for  him,  survey  and  contact 
of  great  bodies  of  such  people,  now  in  early  movement, 
searching  for  a  spot  upon  which  to  place  their  feet  for  life 
and  its  achievements.  Now  the  army  was  near  these  peo- 
ple, and  they  felt  its  presence,  as  the  emancipating  and  pro- 
tecting power  which  the  government  had  sent  them. 
Even  colored  regiments,  great  bodies  of  colored  troops, 
were  seen,  as  they  moved  among  them,  by  their  presence 
and  influence  inspiring  and  encouraging  the  newly  emanci- 
pated to  earnest  and  manly  effort  in  the  hope  of  their 
improvement  and  progress.  The  sight  of  a  people  large  in 
numbers,  and  peculiarly  marked  in  nationality  and  experi- 


234       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

ence,  now  just  made  free,  was  thrillingly  interesting ;  and 
in  spite  of  one's  faith  in  God,  as  holding  their  destiny  in 
His  hands,  and  confidence  in  them  to  meet  any  duty  and 
trial  whereunto  they  were  called,  the  question  came  spon- 
taneously and  irresistibly,  What  shall  they  do  ?  Their  con- 
dition was  not  promising;  and  yet,  they  moved  at  once 
and  promptly,  in  intelligent,  earnest  and  considerate  activ- 
ity, as  if  impelled  and  directed  by  an  Allwise  Supreme 
Power.  Hungry,  they  seemed  to  know  that  they  would  be 
fed.  Thirsty,  they  seemed  to  feel  that  they  would  be  given 
springs  of  water.  Naked,  they  seemed  to  be  assured  of 
abundant  raiment.  Houseless  and  homeless,  they  seemed 
to  move  in  faith  and  confidence  of  certain  provision.  Such 
feelings  did  not  beget  idleness  nor  inattention  to  duty. 
Their  reliance  in  an  overruling  Providence  gave  them  ear- 
nestness, sobriety  and  wisdom  of  life.  Their  thoughts  were 
easily  directed  and  their  purposes  aroused  to  those  duties 
which  respected  their  education,  the  accumulation  of  prop- 
erty, the  cultivation  of  all  those  virtues  and  habits  which 
are  indispensable  in  a  country  and  under  a  government 
where  they  must  build  their  homes  and  win  their  standing, 
commingling  in  ordinary  enterprises  of  business,  trade  and 
labor,  with  the  native  and  foreign  elements  which  compose 
the  population  of  the  country. 

In  Kentucky  and  Tennessee,  as  well  as  other  Southern 
States  lying  more  nearly  upon  the  border-line  of  freedom, 
were  located  then  many  colored  people  who  had  been  free 
for  a  long  time,  born  so  or  emancipated.  Their  presence 
was  of  incalculable  advantage  to  those  who  were  just  leav- 
ing their  slavery.  They  had,  notwithstanding  their  hard 
condition  socially,  made  some  progress  in  earnest  life. 
They  had  built  for  themselves  churches;  in  some  commu- 
nities they  had  established  schools  for  their  children  ;  they 
had  in  some  cases  accumulated  considerable  property  and 
made  for  themselves  small  but  desirable  homes.  Such 
families  as  the  Alexanders,  the  Seals,  the  Goens,  the 
Adamses,  the  Trabues  and  the  Taylors  represented  this  class 
in  the  first-named  State,  while  the  Napiers,  the  Hardings,  the 


EARLY  LABORS  AMONG  THE  FREED  PEOPLE.      235 

Sumners,  the  Lowerys,  the  Smiths  and  the  Churches  repre- 
sented it  in  the  latter.  The  goodly  example  exhibited  in  the 
earnest  and  intelligent  conduct  and  success  of  these  persons, 
born  and  reared  in  their  own  midst  and  among  the  very  class 
which  once  held  them  as  slaves,  did  much  toward  influenc- 
ing and  directing  those  just  made  free,  in  the  ways  of  im- 
proving and  advancing  manhood.  Indeed,  those  who  had 
started  and  made  some  little  progress  in  those  ways  could, 
in  their  words,  bid  the  others  to  follow ;  while  their  lives 
and  good  fortune,  humble  and  small,  offered  a  stern  com- 
mand as  well  as  a  lively  impulse  and  motive  to  press  for- 
ward with  decision  and  courage.  It  is  true  that  the  gov- 
ernment was  represented  even  then  among  the  freed  people 
by  its  great  Bureau  with  its  numberless  agents,  but  mainly 
to  give  a  modicnm  of  protection  with  its  too  small  pro- 
vision for  food  of  rough  and  coarsest  sort,  in  limited  meas- 
ure for  the  extremely  needy.  It  is  time,  too,  that  the 
boundless  and  matchless  charity  of  the  North  was  repre- 
sented by  its  great  associations  and  devoted  workers,  dis- 
covering zeal  and  high  purpose  with  respect  to  the  good  of 
these  people.  But  no  influence,  however  important,  impos- 
ing and  sustained,  was  from  the  beginning  so  potent  as 
that  of  the  free  colored  class,  which,  emancipated  first  and 
suitably  prepared  by  its  experience  therefor,  wrought  now 
in  example  and  effort  to  elevate  and  direct  the  thoughts 
and  purposes  of  the  millions  just  passing  the  gateways  of 
liberty.  While  due  recognition  shall  be  made  of  all  those 
charitable,  philanthropical  and  Christian  endeavors  of  good 
men  and  true  women  coming  from  all  over  the  country, 
even  those  services  of  the  government  performed  through 
Gen.  O.  O.  Howard  and  the  Freedman's  Bureau,  no  failure 
must  be  had  in  the  proper  estimate  and  appreciation  of 
God's  providence,  as  shown  in  the  gradual  freedom  of  such 
numbers  of  the  colored  class  as  He  would  use  in  promoting 
the  welfare  of  the  great  body  of  the  people  whom  He 
would  so  soon  and  in  such  miraculous  manner  speak  into 
freedom  !  Nor  shall  there  be  failure  in  the  right  estimate 
and  appreciation  of  the  happy  and  effective  results  of  the 


236       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

wise  and  judicious  behavior  of  these  forerunners  of  the 
emancipated  hosts. 

What  is  here  stated  and  claimed  was  illustrated  and  sus- 
tained in  admirable  manner  by  the  colored  men  who  man- 
aged and  conducted  the  first  great  meeting  which  they  held 
at  Nashville,  in  the  second  year  of  the  general  emancipation. 
There  was  no  white  member  of  their  executive  committee. 
There  was  no  white  person  called  to  assist  with  counsel  or 
means.  The  colored  men  alone  contributed  the  knowledge, 
skill  and  funds  needed  to  make  that  meeting  in  every  de- 
tail a  wonderful  success. 

Of  the  women  of  the  emancipated  classes  a  fact  must  be 
mentioned,  which  was  discoverable  at  once,  and  which  is 
worthy  of  special  and  emphatic  note.  Allusion  is  made  to 
the  business  understanding  and  tact  of  the  average  colored 
woman,  who  proved  herself  in  every  practical  sense  and  way 
to  be  the  leader  in  all  moral  and  material  enterprises 
adopted  and  undertaken  for  the  advancement  and  promotion 
of  their  people,  newly  emancipated  or  other.  They  were 
foremost  in  designs  and  efforts  for  school,  church  and  gen- 
eral industrial  work  for  the  race ;  always  self-sacrificing  and 
laborious  ;  while  they  were  not  less  apt  and  ready  to  accept 
in  their  own  individual  case,  any  proffered  aid  or  support 
in  such  behalf,  coming  from  the  government,  or  any  good 
people  of  the  North  or  other  quarter,  through  church  or 
special  association.  In  all  such  matters  these  women 
seemed  to  be  guided  by  a  high  and  extraordinary  moral  or 
spiritual  instinct.  Through  all  phases  of  his  advancement, 
from  his  emancipation  to  his  present  position  of  social, 
political,  educational,  moral,  religious  and  material  status, 
the  colored  American  is  greatly  indebted  to  the  women  of 
his  race,  who  have  wrought  with  wisdom  and  earnestness 
in  his  interest.  This  fact  with  respect  to  them  and  the 
inevitable  results  which  must  follow,  was  patent  to  the  in- 
telligent observer  in  the  earliest  days  of  emancipation.  No 
history  can  be  written  of  those  early  days  of  American  free- 
dom, with  justice  accorded  to  all  who  have  played  from  the 
beginning  a  noteworthy  part,  without  large  place  and  truth- 


EARLY  LABORS  AMONG  THE  FREED  PEOPLE.      237 

ful  mention  of  the  women  of  the  freed  classes.  They  have 
in  their  conduct  and  labors,  so  far  as  their  race  is  concerned, 
emulated,  largely,  the  "  virtuous  woman  "  of  the  Scriptures. 

With  his  observation  of  the  race  commencing  in  such 
States  as  those  named,  including  another  of  the  border 
slave-holding  States,  Missouri,  neighbor  to  the  great  north- 
western Commonwealth  made  the  theater  by  John  Brown 
for  his  matchless  deeds  in  favor  of  freedom,  it  may  be  very 
properly  claimed  for  Mr.  Langston,  that  his  opportunities 
for  early  survey  of  the  condition  and  probable  prospects  of 
the  emancipated  classes  were  of  the  most  advantageous 
character.  Many  incidents  connected  with  his  travels  and 
efforts  among  these  people,  under  such  circumstances,  pos- 
sess rare  interest  and  significance. 

It  was  on  the  fourth  day  of  July,  1865,  that  Gen.  John  M. 
Palmer,  then  in  command  of  the  government  forces  in  the 
State  of  Kentucky,  and  in  general  military  control  and  man- 
agement of  public  affairs,  especially  those  which  respected 
the  negro  classes,  which,  under  his  regime,  were  being 
rapidly  emancipated,  after  due  consultation  with  the  presi- 
dent of  the  United  States,  called  and  addressed  a  vast 
assembly  of  such  people  in  the  suburbs  of  the  city  of  Louis- 
ville. The  meeting  was  immense  in  its  numbers  and  re- 
markable in  all  its  conditions.  Three  negro  regiments,  still 
in  the  service,  with  a  great  unbroken  negro  artillery  company, 
were  thrown  about  to  guard  and  protect  this  gathering  of  a 
hundred  thousand  men  and  women,  brought  together  to 
hear  the  welcome  words  of  their  freedom.  They  had  never 
seen  before  the  sun  so  bright,  the  skies  so  lovely,  the  breezes 
so  balmy,  and  nature  so  charming,  as  now,  on  the  memorable 
anniversary  day  of  American  independence.  Sweeter, 
prouder  and  happier  words  were  now  to  come  to  them  than 
any  they  had  ever  heard.  They  were  to  be  spoken  by  one 
whose  words  should  not  be  like  those  of  the  Scribes  and 
Pharisees,  without  authority.  The  orator  of  this  grandest  of 
all  occasions  to  them,  would  speak  in  the  name  of  American 
law  and  by  authority  of  the  most  potent  commanding  force 
of  the  government.  The  people  would  hear  proclamation, 
16 


238       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

made  by  the  military  commanding  officer  in  the  name  of 
the  national  government,  of  the  utter  overthrow  of  slavery 
in  the  State,  and  the  full  and  complete  freedom  of  the  slave, 
so  that  he  might  not  return  at  the  command  of  anyone 
claiming  to  be  his  owner  and  master,  to  any  service  which 
was  not  the  subject  of  his  own  choice,  according  to  an  hon- 
est and  fair  contract  made  with  him.  This  step  was  to  be 
taken  in  accordance  with  the  judgment  and  approval  of  the 
president  of  the  United  States,  Hon.  Andrew  Johnson,  and 
would  serve  to  answer  and  determine  forever,  all  charges 
made  against  General  Palmer  by  Kentucky  slaveholders, 
who  complained  that  he  was  engaged  to  their  great  annoy- 
ance and  injury  in  freeing  contrary  to  law,  by  a  curious 
system  of  passes,  all  their  slaves.  It  was  apparent  that  the 
thousands  who  gathered,  composing  a  vast,  immense,  ex- 
pectant assembly,  felt  and  realized  the  importance  of  the 
occasion.  The  arrival  of  General  Palmer,  in  his  carriage 
drawn  by  four  horses,  preceded  by  his  band  of  music  and 
followed  by  his  imposing  array  of  military  and  popular  char- 
acters, was  signalized  by  such  a  storm  and  flood  of  applause 
as  has  seldom  greeted  the  ears  and  gladdened  the  heart  of 
the  most  triumphant  honored  hero.  The  general  had  just 
returned  from  Washington,  where  he  seemed  to  have  gained 
special  inspiration  for  his  matchless  task,  and,  as  he  rode  in 
his  carriage  with  two  colored  men  seated  therein  near  him, 
Rev.  Henry  Adams  and  John  M.  Langston,  through  the 
streets  of  the  proud  city  of  Louisville,  he  displayed  no  other 
feelings  than  those  of  confidence  and  satisfaction.  He  was 
now  to  perform  his  part  in  the  work  of  general  emancipa- 
tion. He  seemed  conscious  of  the  dignity  and  glory  of  the 
task.  Well  he  might !  All  honor  to  him,  he  did  it  well ! 
His  speech  to  the  people,  brief  as  it  was,  was  full  of  the 
deepest,  the  most  far-reaching  consequence,  and  theeloquence 
of  its  meaning  and  its  happy  effects  could  only  be  measured 
by  the  movement  which  it  produced  in  the  hearts  and 
minds,  in  the  feelings  and  purposes  of  his  vast  audience, 
whose  response  in  applause  came  like  the  dashings  of  con- 
tending floods,  in  hottest,  wildest  contest.  He  concluded 


EARLY  LABORS  AMONG  THE  FREED  PEOPLE.  239 

his  wonderful  utterance  with  the  statement  that :  "  Now, 
by  tlie  Declaration  of  Independence,  by  the  Constitution  of  the 
United  States,  by  that  law  of  our  country  which  makes  all  of 
its  inhabitants  free,  since  our  government  is  a  democracy  ;  as 
commanding  officer  of  this  Commonwealth,  by  the  power  and 
authority  invested  in  me  and  upon  the  instruction  and  approval 
of  the  president  of  the  United  States,  I  do  declare  slavery 
forever  abolished  in  this  State.'"  No  speech  heretofore  made 
by  any  orator  in  the  United  States  of  America,  had  ever  had 
such  close  and  climax.  No  audience  such  as  this  had  ever 
been  addressed  within  the  vast  limits  of  the  Union.  And 
the  fourth  day  of  July,  on  which  the  American  people  are 
wont  to  magnify  the  blessings  of  liberty,  as  guaranteed  to 
them  in  the  free  institutions  established  by  the  Fathers  of 
the  Republic,  had  never  been  honored  by  such  expressions  of 
high  sentiments,  fraught  with  the  blessings  of  unconditional 
liberty  to  the  poorest  classes  of  the  community.  How  the 
words  of  the  general  were  received  by  those  who  with  up- 
turned faces  and  grateful  hearts  heard  and  rejoiced  in  them  ! 
On  this  occasion,  in  the  midst  of  such  interesting,  thrill- 
ing, patriotic  circumstances,  Mr.  Langston,  as  specially  in- 
vited, was  introduced  by  General  Palmer  as  he  closed  his  ad- 
dress, as  a  representative  of  the  American  negro  who  could 
speak  of  the  blessings  and  advantages  which  the  people 
might  expect  to  enjoy  in  their  freedom  as  regulated  and 
sustained  by  law.  He  must  deliver  a  speech  which  would 
in  no  wise  tend  to  abate  the  enthusiasm,  disturb  the  happi- 
ness, lessen  the  gratitude  or  fail  to  inspire  with  the  hope  of 
a  glad  future,  all  those,  however  conditioned,  who  were  for 
the  first  time  then  his  auditors.  How  well  he  performed 
his  task  was  shown  in  the  deafening  applause  which  fol- 
lowed its  close,  and  in  the  graceful,  apt  and  charming 
words  of  the  prayer  made  by  the  noted  colored  Baptist 
minister,  Mr.  Adams,  who,  in  thanking  God  for  what  was 
then  and  there  witnessed  and  felt  by  the  people,  compli- 
mented Mr.  Langston  as  he  dwelt  with  emphasis  in  his 
thank-offering  upon  what  he  pleased  to  term,  "  the  match- 
less, eloquent  address  of  the  young  colored  orator  who  had 


24o       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

been  permitted  in  such  truth  and  power  to  instruct  this  vast 
gathering  of  former  slaves,  just  now  made  free." 

This  constituted  the  second  peculiarly  interesting  and 
unparalleled  gathering  of  freed  people,  seen  and  addressed 
by  Mr.  Langston  upon  the  very  soil  and  in  the  midst  of 
the  very  circumstances  of  their  emancipation.  And  in 
such  observation  as  he  was  able  to  make  in  public,  and  of 
the  people  in  their  private  and  domestic  relations,  he  was 
so  entirely  delighted  with  all  he  witnessed  as  to  be  thor- 
oughly persuaded  in  his  feelings  and  judgment  of  the  good 
future  which,  on  the  whole,  must  await  the  newly  emanci- 
pated classes. 

Occupied  upon  various  occasions  during  the  intervening 
and  closing  months  of  1865,  in  addressing  the  freed  people 
located  in  several  of  the  chief  cities  of  the  border  Southern 
States,  early  in  1866  Mr.  Langston  was  invited  to  visit  the 
city  of  St.  Louis  and  there  address  his  third  great  meeting 
of  such  people.  They  had  arranged  to  celebrate  their  state 
emancipation,  and  upon  special  effort  to  that  end  brought 
together  an  immense,  imposing  meeting.  The  people  came 
from  every  part  of  the  State  to  its  chief  city,  in  response 
to  private  and  public  invitations,  so  that  the  vast  audience 
chamber  of  Veranda  Hall  of  that  city  lacked  capacity 
for  the  accommodation  of  those  who  crowded  it,  occupying 
only  standing  room,  after  all  seats  had  been  removed,  and 
even  upon  an  admission  fee  of  one  dollar  for  each  person 
in  attendance.  Immense  and  various  as  this  assembly 
proved  to  be,  it  was  representative,  at  least  only  of  the  up- 
per and  middling  classes  of  the  colored  people,  who  were 
able  to  pay  the  charge  indicated.  As  such,  it  was  a  remark- 
ably fine  one,  unsurpassed  in  its  appearance,  its  attention 
and  general  behavior.  The  address  on  this  occasion  was 
one  in  which  the  orator  attempted  to  impress  those  lessons 
with  respect  to  education,  labor,  thrift,  forecast,  economy, 
temperance  and  morality,  which  are  indispensable  to 
fair  and  permanent  progress  in  freedom.  It  was  received 
with  the  deepest  earnestness  and  the  most  profound  appre- 
ciation, being  interrupted  only  from  time  to  time  by  the 


EARLY  LABORS  AMONG  THE  FREED  PEOPLE.      241 

approval  of  the  people,  as  demonstrated  in  the  outbursts  of 
their  applause. 

At  this  time  the  Constitutional  Convention  of  the  State 
of  Missouri  was  in  session,  and  had  reached  that  part  of  its 
work  which  concerned  the  consideration  and  adoption  of  a 
provision,  which,  while  it  secured  the  freedom,  gave  equal 
civil  rights  to  the  freed  people.  This  subject  was  pending 
before  the  convention,  but  grave  doubt  was  felt  very  gen- 
erally by  the  class  immediately  interested,  especially  the 
more  intelligent  among  them  and  their  friends,  that  the 
full  measure  of  civil  rights  might  not  be  given  them.  Invi- 
tation, therefore,  was  extended  to  Mr.  Langston  to  address 
the  Constitutional  Convention  in  favor  of  the  colored  peo- 
ple of  the  State,  urging  in  their  behalf  such  just  and  legal 
consideration  as  to  lead  to  the  gift  of  full,  equal  civil 
rights  at  least,  under  the  new  Constitution.  This  invita- 
tion, with  the  duty  which  it  implied,  was  accepted,  and  on 
the  next  night,  after  he  had  delivered  the  address  already 
mentioned,  upon  due  and  ample  preparations,  he  did  address 
the  Constitutional  Convention.  Every  member  of  the  con- 
vention was  present  and  heard  him  with  solemn,  serious 
attention,  in  Veranda  Hall,  and  in  the  midst  of  a  vast  con- 
course of  colored  people  who  were  directly  and  deeply 
interested  in  the  proceedings  of  the  meeting.  Though  the 
address  was  lengthy,  it  was  heard  from  beginning  to  end 
with  great  patience.  At  the  great  dinner  given  the  mem- 
bers of  the  Constitutional  Convention  and  the  distinguished 
guests  who  were  present,  Mr.  Langston  was  not  only  given 
a  seat  of  special  honor,  but  his  speech  was  made  the  subject 
of  many  flattering  expressions  with  respect  to  the  law,  the 
logic,  the  morality,  the  learning,  the  justice  and  the  human- 
ity which  it  embodied.  The  late  Hon.  Charles  D.  Drake, 
perhaps  the  foremost  member  of  the  Convention,  subse- 
quently a  member  of  the  United  States  Senate  and  more 
latterly  chief  justice  of  the  United  States  Court  of  Claims, 
was  peculiarly  kind  and  pleasant  in  his  expressions  with  re- 
gard to  it.  And  it  is  a  very  delightful  matter  of  record, 
that  the  Constitution  was  so  framed  and  ratified  as  to  pro- 


242 


FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 


vide  for  the  colored  people  of  the  State  their  full  measure 
and  equality  of  civil  rights. 

In  connection  with  these  meetings  other  names  deserve 
special  mention,  some  as  exerting  great  influence  in  their 
promotion  and  success,  and  others,  younger,  as  inspired  and 
impelled  to  exalted  resolve  and  effort.  All  these  last,  the 
promoters  of  the  meetings  and  those  specially  blessed 
thereby,  now  referred  to,  were  of  the  emancipated  class. 
Rev.  M,  M.  Clarke,  a  leading  minister  of  the  A.  M.  E. 
Church;  Revs.  J.  W.  White  and  W.  P.  Brooks,  ministers  of 
the  Baptist;  and  Messrs.  P.  G.  Wells  and  Alfred  White, 
were  all  full  of  zeal  and  energy  at  this  time  in  promoting 
the  common  cause  of  the  people.  The  last  two  had  won, 
even  at  that  time,  enviable  names,  as  earnest  and  laborious 
business  men.  Messrs.  William  Gray  and  J.  Milton  Turner, 
both  young  men  without  name,  inspired  and  impelled  by 
the  influences  then  exerted  upon  their  susceptible  and 
aspiring  minds,  have  become  since,  by  earnest  and  persist- 
ent efforts,  orators  of  rare  ability,  and  have  won  high  place 
among  the  foremost  of  their  race.  Clarke,  Wells  and  Gray 
sleep  among  the  dead !  The  remembrance  and  influence  of 
their  goodly  lives  still  survive.  Messrs.  White,  Brooks  and 
Turner  are  still  active  and  earnest  in  labors  for  the  good  of 
the  people.  Mr.  Turner  has  within  the  past  few  years 
added  to  his  name  and  standing,  by  filling  with  distinction 
and  success  a  position  of  great  dignity  and  responsibility, 
as  the  minister  resident  -and  consul-general  of  this  govern- 
ment near  that  of  Liberia. 

Upon  the  close  of  his  labors  connected  with  these  meet- 
ings, Mr.  Langston  was  engaged  by  the  same  executive 
committee  through  whose  influence  and  patronage  he  had 
visited  St.  Louis,  to  make  a  canvass  of  the  States  of  Mis- 
souri and  Kansas,  with  special  reference  to  visits  and 
addresses  in  the  larger  cities  of  those  States  to  the  colored 
people.  Their  enlightenment  and  inspiration  with  respect 
to  their  life  in  freedom,  the  obligations  and  duties  which  it 
imposed  and  the  future  of  blessing  and  reward  which  they 
might  hope  for  should  they  meet  such  duties  and  obliga- 


EARLY  LABORS  AMONG  THE  FREED  PEOPLE.      243 

tions  with  intelligence  and  vigor,  were  to  constitute  the 
themes  to  be  explained  and  enforced.  Besides  general 
meetings  as  indicated,  Mr.  Langston  was  to  address  the 
Legislatures,  respectively  of  Kansas  and  Missouri,  at  To- 
peka  and  Jefferson  City.  It  was  deemed  necessary  and 
proper  to  address  thus  the  legislators  of  these  States  upon 
the  law  concerning  the  status  of  the  colored  American,  now 
set  free,  in  order  that  in  any  attempts  which  might  be 
made  to  legislate  specially  in  his  case  they  might  be  guided 
in  such  efforts  with  wisdom  and  good  understanding. 

Arrangements  having  been  completed,  Mr.  Langston 
entered  without  delay  upon  his  work,  making  speeches  in 
St.  Louis,  at  Macon  City,  at  Hannibal,  at  Chillicothe,  and 
at  St.  Joseph,  in  the  State  of  Missouri ;  and  at  Atchison, 
Leavenworth,  Wyandotte,  Lawrence  and  Topeka,  in  Kan- 
sas. The  meetings  at  all  these  places  were  large  and 
enthusiastic.  The  white  as  well  as  the  colored  people 
turned  out  at  every  point  in  large  numbers,  and  the  journals 
of  the  various  cities  made  free,  full,  and  for  the  most  part 
favorable  comments  upon  the  addresses  delivered.  The 
meeting  at  Topeka,  where  the  Legislature  as  prearranged 
was  addressed,  proved  to  be  a  very  great  success.  The 
Hall  of  Representatives  was  greatly  wanting  in  capacity  to 
accommodate  the  large  number  of  people  anxious  to  hear 
the  speech.  The  attention  and  consideration  given  the 
speaker  both  by  the  law-makers  of  the  State  and  the  peo- 
ple, were  entirely  satisfactory  and  augured  well  for  the 
colored  citizen  of  the  State  in  its  future  legislation.  At 
this  time  the  newly  emancipated  classes  of  Missouri  and 
Arkansas  were  found  moving  in  large  numbers  to  Kansas. 
Many  of  them  were  so  situated  as  to  indicate  plainly  their 
former  condition  of  enslavement.  In  their  present  one  of 
freedom,  in  too  many  cases  they  were  without  even  the 
merest  necessary  indispensable  articles  which  one  must  feel 
would  make  life  even  with  the  largest  liberty  tolerable. 

Returning  from  Topeka,  on  his  way  to  St.  Louis,  Mr. 
Langston  visited  for  the  second  time  the  city  of  Lawrence, 
addressing  once  more  a  great  assembly  there  convened. 


244       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Thence  returning,  he  attended  meetings  at  Kansas  City, 
Sedalia,  Jefferson  City  and  St.  Louis.  In  all  these  cities 
the  meetings  were  large,  orderly  and  successful.  The  one 
at  Jefferson  City,  held  as  that  at  Topeka,  in  the  hall  of  the 
House  of  Representatives,  with  all  the  members  of  the 
Legislature  present,  and  a  vast  general  audience,  was  suc- 
cessful, impressive  and  imposing  beyond  the  most  sanguine 
hope  of  its  promoters.  Here  Mr.  Langston  was  treated  in 
princely  style.  Besides  being  received  by  a  large  respecta- 
ble local  committee  of  prominent  well-known  colored  gen- 
tlemen with  peculiar  Jclat,  entertained  at  the  first  hotel  in 
the  city,  with  every  want  anticipated  and  supplied,  with 
the  state  officers,  including  the  governor,  General  Fletcher, 
treating  him  with  marked  attention,  the  senators  and  mem- 
bers of  the  Legislature  making  him  cordial  and  considerate 
visits,  his  sojourn  in  the  city  was  made  thoroughly  agree- 
able by  the  general  popular  favor  shown  him.  In  due 
season  he  was  conducted  into  the  hall  of  the  House  of 
Representatives,  with  the  great  band  employed  for  the 
occasion  playing  in  most  lively,  stirring  strains,  "  Hail  to 
the  Chief."  He  was  introduced  to  the  brilliant,  crowded 
audience  in  most  felicitous  style,  by  a  prominent  member 
of  the  House  of  Representatives,  the  Hon.  Enos  Clark  of 
St.  Louis.  The  address  on  this  occasion  proved  to  be 
thoroughly  acceptable  to  the  colored  people  and  the 
Republican  and  liberally-minded  portion  of  the  great  audi- 
ence. The  members  of  the  Legislature,  who  were  specially 
addressed,  gave  constant  unflagging  attention  to  the  whole 
utterance  ;  and  those  who  did  not  accept  its  sentiments, 
treated  the  speaker  with  great  respect  and  cordial  consider- 
ation. The  Democratic  and  conservative,  illiberal  classes 
were  not  pleased  with  the  great  distinction  that  marked 
Mr.  Langston's  reception,  his  entertainment,  and  his  treat- 
ment by  the  Legislature  and  the  people.  The  consequence 
was  that  the  Democratic  papers  of  the  capital  and  State, 
including  the  Democratic  metropolitan  journals,  were  filled 
for  weeks  with  badly-tempered,  ill-advised  and  untruthful, 
disparaging  comments  upon  the  whole  affair.  The  Renub- 


EARLY  LABORS  AMONG  THE  FREED  PEOPLE.  245 

lican  journals,  on  the  other  hand,  throughout  the  State, 
were  firm,  earnest  and  manly  in  their  notices,  speaking 
always  in  favorable,  even  flattering  terms  of  the  orator. 

The  manner  in  which  Mr.  Langston  was  received  in  this 
mission  of  earnest  effort  in  behalf  of  the  freed  people  in  all 
parts  of  the  States  named,  is  abundantly  illustrated  in  cer- 
tain sample  notices  of  himself  and  his  work  here  given, 
taken  from  newspapers,  published  in  several  of  the  different 
places  which  he  visited,  and  where  he  spoke.  Of  the  object 
which  he  had  in  view,  one  journal  speaks  as  follows  : 

"  Mr.  Langston,  we  understand,  will  present  to  our  citizens  the  cause  of  his 
race — (.heir  rights,  duties  and  responsibilities,  and  the  claims  they  make  upon 
the  community  and  the  State.  We  do  not  understand,  however,  that  he  will 
do  this  arrogantly  or  in  any  unbecoming  terms.  Reason  and  truth  will  be  his 
instruments. 

"  We  bespeak  for  this  gentleman  a  candid  hearing.  The  arguments  he  may 
present  will  be  no  more  nor  less  powerful  because  proceeding  from  the  lips  of  a 
colored  man.  •  Let  them  be  judged  of  from  the  standpoint  of  sound  reason  and 
good  sense,  regardless  of  extrinsic  influences." 

The  same  paper,  the  "Daily  Courier"  of  Hannibal, 
Missouri,  December  18,  1865,  after  Mr.  Langston  had 
spoken,  employed  with  respect  to  his  address  upon  "  Educa- 
tion, Money  and  Character,"  the  following  words  : 

"  We  could  not  help  wondering  as  we  listened  to  the  eloquent  utterances 
of  John  M.  Langston,  where  was  that  terrific  iron  heel  of  pro-slavery  despotism 
that  five  years  ago  would  have  crushed  in  its  incipiency  as  if  it  had  been  an 
egg  shell,  such  a  demonstration.  Gone  down  with  the  institution  which  it 
supported  and  which  supported  it  ;  gone  calling  on  the  rocks  and  the  moun- 
tains to  fall  on  it  and  hide  it  from  the  wrath  to  come;  crumbled  to  pieces 
beneath  the  very  earthquake  which  itself  invoked  to  topple  down  the  glorious 
fabric  of  our  Union  !  Thanks  be  to  God,  that  Union  is  emblazoned  with  a  new 
glory  and  cemented  a  hundred-fold  stronger  by  the  best  blood  of  its  noble 
patriots  !  But  where  are  the  men  who  opened  the  gates  of  Janus  and  unloosed 
the  furies  of  war  ?  Consumed— perished  ingloriously  and  ignominiously  and 
forever.  And  triumphing  over  their  downfall,  Freedom  now  holds  its  jubilee ! 

"  Such  was  the  triumph  last  Saturday  night,  when  a  former  slave  addressed 
his  former  fellow-slaves,  now  citizens,  on  the  great  subjects  connected  with 
their  duties  and  responsibilities  to  their  country  and  themselves  and  their 
privileges  as  American  citizens,  while  there  were  none  to  molest,  but  many  to 
cheer. 

"  We  cannot  attempt  to  follow  the  eloquent  speaker  in  his  train  of  remarks. 
Those  who  did  not  hear  him,  could  gain  no  adequate  idea  of  the  rare  excellence 


246       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

of  the  address  from  our  poor  and  meager  jottings.  Suffice  to  say  that  his 
words  were  full  of  appositeness  to  the  audience  and  the  occasion.  To  the 
colored  men  he  said,  '  Above  all  other  things,  get  education !  Get  money ! 
Get  character ! ' 

"  When  the  Missouri  State  Convention  on  the  nth  of  January  last,  abolished 
slavery  throughout  this  State,  he  was  telegraphed  to  come  to  St.  Louis  to  help 
the  colored  people  of  that  city  thank  God  and  the  Convention  for  making 
them  free.  He  went  and  electrified  St.  Louis  with  his  eloquent  words. 

"  He  now  comes  again  to  Missouri,  this  time  to  canvass  the  State  for  the 
benefit  of  the  freedmen— to  assist  them  up  and  help  them  on  with  words  of  cheer 
and  with  good  advice.  May  God  speed  him  and  bless  his  noble  efforts." 

The  meeting  at  St.  Joseph,  Missouri,  was  one  that  pro- 
duced such  effect  upon  the  public  mind,  as  to  stir  to  its 
very  depths  the  pro-slavery  sentiment.  This  was  shown  in 
a  letter  which  Mr.  Langston  received  on  the  following  day 
after  his  speech.  The  journals  of  the  city  characterized  the 
author  and  the  letter  in  becoming  truthful  phrase.  In 
speaking  on  this  subject  the  leading  paper  used  these  words 
in  an  editorial  entitled  "The  Spirit  of  Slavery  :  " 

"  It  is  well  known  that  Mr.  John  M.  Langston,  a  colored  man,  has  been  in 
this  city  for  some  days  past,  pleading  in  the  most  eloquent  and  able  terms  for 
the  rights  of  his  own  race,  and  as  an  orator  and  close  thinker,  will  compare 
favorably  with  any  man  who  has  addressed  a  St.  Joseph  audience  for  months. 
Mr.  Langston  came  among  us  well  endorsed  as  a  courteous  man  and  Christian 
gentleman,  and  while  here  was  the  guest  of  G.  C.  Barton,  Esq.,  of  this  city, 
who  has  long  been  acquainted  with  him,  and  knew  Mr.  Langston  when  he 
was  in  college  and  will  endorse  all  that  we  say  of  him  in  this  article." 

Speaking  of  the  scurrillous  anonymous  letter  which  he 
received,  this  journal  says  : 

"  Its  contents  show  that  the  writer  is  a  mean,  cowardly  rebel  and  sympathi- 
zer with  treason,  and  chooses  to  show  his  courage,  not  by  going  into  an 
assembly  in  a  manly  way  and  meeting  argument  with  argument,  but  by  an 
assault  from  behind,  just  where  he  has  been  during  the  four  years  of  the  war, 
and  sending  to  Mr.  Langston  an  anonymous  letter.  And  well  may  he  conceal 
his  name,  he  dare  not  make  it  known  in  this  city.  The  spirit  manifested  in 
this  letter  is  the  real  spirit  of  slavery,  that  institution  which  is  abhorred  of  God 
and  man,  and  which,  thank  God !  the  Constitution  of  these  United  States 
tolerates  no  more  forever.  But  read  the  letter." 

"'  Saint  Joe,  Dec.  23,  1865. 
"  '  MR.  J.  M.  LANGSTON  : 
" '  Sir  : 

" '  Feeling  an  interest  in  the  philanthropic  object  you  have  in  view, 


EARLY  LABORS  AMONG  THE  FREED  PEOPLE.  247 

which  you  so  ably   represent  and  eloquently  advocate,  I  cannot  know  danger 
threatening  you  without  giving  timely  warning. 

"  '  It  has  been  ascertained  that  an  organized  band  of  horse  thieves  have  visited 
this  city  for  the  purpose  of  operating  and  it  is  believed  that  you  are  an  accom- 
plice, if  not  the  president  of  the  party.  So  firmly  is  this  the  conviction  of 
some,  that  threats  of  personal  violence  have  been  made,  and  actuated  by  a 
purely  humane  motive  I  would  earnestly  advise  your  immediate  departure. 

" '  Respectfully, 

'"  A  FRIEND.'" 

This  letter  had  no  effect  upon  Mr.  Langston's  move- 
ments, except  as  it  may  have  aroused  and  quickened  the 
purposes  of  his  friends  to  give  him  the  largest  possible 
opportunity  to  plead  with  efficiency  the  cause  of  the  negro. 

The  meeting  held  at  Topeka,  the  capital  of  Kansas,  was 
concluded  by  the  remarkable  expression  found  in  the  fol- 
lowing resolution,  as  offered  by  Gen,  John  Ritchey  and 
adopted  without  a  dissenting  voice : 

"  Resolved,  that  as  the  right  of  self-government  is  one  of 
the  natural,  essential,  and  inherent  rights  of  man,  we  will 
extend  the  right  of  suffrage  to  citizens  of  African  descent." 

The  paper  in  which  this  resolution  was  published,  in 
speaking  of  the  speech  and  the  meeting,  uses  the  following 
terms  : 

"  Long  before  the  hour  for  speaking  the  hall  of  the  House  Representatives  was 
filled  to  overflowing  with  eager  listeners,  to  hear  that  distinguished  orator  of 
Ohio,  Mr.  John  M.  Langston.  When  the  hour  arrived  the  meeting  was  organ- 
ized by  calling  Mr.  Charles  H.  Langston,  a  brother  of  the  speaker,  to  the  chair, 
who  made  a  short  and  pertinent  explanation  of  the  objects  of  the  meeting, 
closing  with  the  introduction  of  the  orator  to  the  vast  multitude  before  him." 

Of  the  speech,  after  presenting  it,  substantially,  the  paper 
concludes  by  saying: 

"  Taking  this  speech  altogether,  it  was  an  able,  eloquent  and  logical  effort, 
made  at  the  right  time,  and  in  the  right  place,  and  in  the  right  direction." 

The  St.  Louis  "Missouri  Democrat,"  on  the  eleventh  day 
of  January,  1866,  referred  to  the  meeting  held  at  Jefferson 
City,  with  the  head  line,  "  Langston  before  the  Legislature," 
followed  by  this  special  dispatch  : 


248       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

"This  week  is  furnishing  us  with  occurrences  of  unusual  interest;  the  least 
to  be  forgotten  among  them  is  that  John  M.  Langston,  the  colored  orator 
from  Ohio,  who  has  recently  been  addressing  mass  meetings  of  colored  people  in 
various  parts  of  the  State,  addressed  a  large  audience  in  the  hall  of  the  House 
of  Representatives  a  night  or  two  since.  It  was  a  strange  spectacle  in  the 
capital  of  Missouri.  The  hall  was  filled  to  its  utmost  capacity.  The  mem- 
bers of  the  General  Assembly  turned  out  in  a  body.  The  east  half  of  the  hall 
was  exclusively  appropriated  by  the  colored  people,  while  the  west  half  was 
reserved  for  -white  persons. 

"  Mr.  Langston  was  introduced  to  the  assembly  by  a  talented  and  leading 
young  member  of  the  House,  Enos  Clark,  Esq.,  of  St.  Louis,  in  a  few  well- 
chosen  remarks.  On  opening  the  orator  said :  That  the  Representatives  of 
Missouri  permitted  the  use  of  their  hall  for  the  occasion,  he  could  with  diffi- 
culty realize,  and  that  they  did  extend  this  courtesy,  really,  is  a  fact  deserving 
the  prominent  mention  he  gave  it,  as  pointing  to  the  principle  of  equal  rights 
carried  to  the  ascendant  through  the  red  sea  of  revolution.  He  spoke  elo- 
quently and  well.  His  plea  in  behalf  of  his  race  for  the  simple  award  of 
justice  and  human  rights  addresses  itself  with  irresistible  force  to  the  better 
judgment  of  men.  Even  conservatives,  many  of  whom  were  present  and 
listened  with  marked  attention,  admitted  the  vanquishing  force  of  his  logic, 
and  acknowledged  frankly  the  fairness  and  justness  of  his  argument." 

This  trip  thoroughly  completed,  embracing  four  great 
States,  gave  Mr.  Langston  such  full,  general  observation 
of  the  freed  people  with  whom  he  was  brought  in  associa- 
tion, as  greatly  to  broaden,  improve  and  strengthen  his 
ideas  of  and  faith  in  the  ability,  promise  and  final  elevation 
and  standing  which  they  would  gain,  as  wisely  directed,  in 
this  country.  He  has  not  been  mistaken  in  the"  views 
which  he  then  formed,  expressed  and  defended,  with  re- 
spect to  that  result.  He  rejoices,  as  do  all  its  friends,  in 
the  progress  and  success  with  which  the  negro  race  has 
been  blessed  in  the  cultivation  of  education,  the  accumula- 
tion of  property,  and  the  development  and  growth  of  all 
the  cardinal  virtues  of  human  character,  without  which  no 
people  can  ever  reach  permanent  good,  greatness,  or  even 
desirable  name. 


CHAPTER  XVIII. 

HIS  FIRST  PROFESSIONAL  CALL  TO  WASHINGTON  AND  HIS 
APPOINTMENT  AS  GENERAL  INSPECTOR  OF  THE  BUREAU 
OF  REFUGEES,  FREEDMEN  AND  ABANDONED  LANDS. 

THE  intensity  of  popular  feeling  in  favor  of  the  govern- 
ment in  the  early  days  of  the  Rebellion,  when  calls  were 
made  to  all  concerned  for  their  noblest  and  truest  sons, 
was  manifested  in  nothing  so  completely  as  in  the  readiness 
with  which  often  the  last  son  and  the  only  one,  was  given 
to  defend  and  maintain  the  Union.  A  family  consisting  of 
three  persons,  an  aged  father,  an  afflicted  daughter  and  a 
son,  residing  in  Pittsfield  Township,  Lorain  County,  Ohio, 
owning  a  small  farm  which  they  cultivated  for  their  sup- 
port, was  separated  in  one  of  the  earliest  calls  of  the  gov- 
ernment by  the  enlistment  of  the  young  man.  He  was  the 
pillar  and  prop  of  a  household  that  seemed  helpless,  deso- 
late and  forlorn  without  his  presence.  He  had  enlisted 
and  served  his  first  term  with  honor  and  distinction.  He 
had  re-enlisted,  and  entered  with  vigor  and  earnestness  upon 
a  second  term  of  service.  His  absence  from  home  seemed 
quite  enough  for  his  father  and  sister  to  endure,  loyal  and 
patriotic  as  they  were,  loving  their  country  and  government 
in  such  sincerity  and  truth  as  to  be  willing  to  give  him  up 
for  its  defence,  who  would  otherwise  at  once  protect  and 
support  them.  Indeed,  so  much  they  were  glad  to  do  in 
making  what  was  to  them  a  serious  and  important  sacrifice. 
But  a  great  affliction  had  overtaken  them.  For,  in  an  evil 
249 


250       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

hour,  influenced  by  untoward  associates,  the  son,  the  young 
soldier  who  bore  the  hope  of  their  name  and  household, 
had  gone  astray. 

The  father  and  sister,  with  hearts  full  of  the  deepest 
anxiety  and  grief,  in  the  last  weeks  of  1866,  came  to  the 
office  of  Mr.  Langston  to  make  known  to  him  the  story  of 
the  arrest,  trial,  conviction  and  confinement  of  the  son  and 
brother  in  a  military  prison.  They  had  gone  to  their  neigh- 
bors and  friends,  seeking  counsel  and  support  in  any  efforts 
which  might  be  made  to  alleviate  his  condition  or  to 
secure  his  release.  As  directed,  they  had  now  come  with 
their  hope  well-nigh  gone,  to  ask  the  professional  aid  of  the 
lawyer,  to  whom  they  made  known  the  facts  reported.  As 
inquired  of  they  were  glad  to  bear  testimony  to  the  previous 
good  character  of  the  soldier,  and  offered  in  proof  of  his  good 
conduct  the  honorable  discharge  which  had  been  given  him. 
They  told,  too,  how  all  the  neighbors  would  substantiate 
all  their  declarations  in  favor  of  him,  as  he  was  known  by 
them  before  he  entered  the  service. 

Their  earnest,  anxious  solicitude  was  thoroughly  expressed 
in  the  questions,  "  Can  anything  be  done  for  him  ?  Can 
you  secure  his  release?"  Letters  from  him  were  then 
produced,  in  which  he  directed  his  father  and  sister  to 
employ  the  attorney  upon  whom  they  had  called  and  of 
whom  he  had  some  knowledge,  advising  that  if  employed, 
he  might  prove  to  be  specially  serviceable.  In  his  letters, 
he  assured  his  friends  also  that  he  had  not  had  a  fair  and 
just  trial ;  that  upon  a  due  examination  of  the  proceedings 
of  the  court  before  which  his  case  had  been  tried,  errors 
and  irregularities  would  appear,  and  also  insufficiencies  of 
evidence  and  law  would  be  found,  of  such  character  and 
such  number  as  to  justify  prompt  and  energetic  efforts  in 
his  behalf.  Besides  expressing  his  confidence  in  Mr.  Lang- 
ston's  ability  and  skill  to  find  all  such  defects  and  faults  in 
the  proceedings  of  the  court,  he  urged  his  belief  that  his  in- 
fluence with  the  authorities  was  such  as  to  secure  for  him 
favorable  action  in  view  of  them.  Upon  the  urgent  request 
of  all  concerned,  especially  in  view  of  the  pathetic  appeal  of 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.     251 

the  sister,  Mr.  Langston  agreed  to  do  what  he  might  for  the 
relief  and  reinstatement  of  the  son  in  the  service.  On  in- 
vestigation, he  found  that  he  was  able  to  make  for  the 
young  man  an  excellent  name.  He  was  able,  too,  to  show 
that  his  record  as  a  soldier  was  good  ;  that  he  had  done 
good  service,  and  without  a  single  exception,  had  always 
demeaned  himself  so  as  to  gain  and  retain  the  respect  and 
confidence  of  his  officers  and  comrades.  This  was  the  first 
offence  ever  charged  against  him.  It  was  a  grave  one,  to  be 
sure — robbery  of  certain  property  from  a  poor  man  who  had 
refused  to  comply  with  demands  of  a  number  of  soldiers, 
partially  in  liquor,  in  whose  company  this  one  at  the  time 
was  found.  The  regiment  to  which  this  soldier  belonged 
was  in  camp  at  the  time  of  this  occurrence  at  Nashville, 
Tennessee,  and  it  was  after  a  visit  to  the  city,  on  their  way 
back  to  the  camp,  that  this  crime  was  said  to  have  been 
committed. 

Fortified  in  the  plea  of  his  prior  uniform  good  conduct, 
advised  as  to  the  haste  and  irregularity  of  his  trial,  with  sev- 
eral informalities  marking  the  proceedings  of  the  court,  and 
persuaded  that  his  conviction  was  not  sustained  by  evi- 
dence duly  adduced,  Mr.  Langston  resolved  to  present  the 
case  upon  a  carefully  prepared  statement  of  all  such  facts 
and  considerations  to  the  president  of  the  United  States 
and  ask  his  action  in  behalf  of  the  soldier.  At  first  it  was 
decided  to  bring  and  conduct  the  case  so  far  as  such  appli- 
cation was  concerned,  by  correspondence.  Subsequently, 
however,  upon  further  reflection  and  consideration,  it  was 
determined  to  have  it  done  personally,  even  if  the  expenses 
connected  with  the  proceedings  should  be  greatly  increased. 
This  course  necessitated  a  trip  to  Washington  city  and  a 
visit  to  the  White  House.  The  friends  of  the  young  man 
were  fully  convinced  of  the  wisdom  of  this  course  and  were 
positive  and  hearty  in  advising  and  urging  it.  Accordingly, 
fully  armed  and  confident  of  success,  in  the  early  part  of 
January,  1867,  the  attorney  found  himself  in  the  national 
capital  upon  his  first  professional  call  to  that  city. 

No  one  can  tell  what  patience  and   perseverance  are,  till 


252       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

he  makes  his  first  tour  from  a  distant  State  to  Washington 
to  see  the  chief  executive  of  the  nation.  Not  to  say  one 
word  of  an  office-seeker,  how  hard  it  is  for  a  worthy  citizen, 
moved  by  every  sacred  and  holy  consideration  and  motive, 
often  to  see  that  high  officer  of  the  State  !  How,  day  after 
day  till  the  days  make  weeks,  that  person  may  have  to  go 
and  wait,  and  leave  and  return  again,  repeating  his  visits 
before  he  can  gain  sight  of  the  executive  and  take  a  single 
step  in  any  business  which  he  may  have  in  hand  !  So  the 
Ohio  lawyer  passed  the  first  week  after  his  arrival  at  the 
capital  in  visiting  and  waiting  without  avail  at  the  Execu- 
tive Mansion.  How  many  times  in  that  week  daily,  he 
heard  the  kind  voice  of  the  door-keeper  as  he  announced  to 
the  multitude  of  waiting  American  citizens,  each  anxious  to 
make  known  his  wants,  that  the  president  would  see  no 
one  until  the  next  day !  How  often  during  that  time  he 
went  away  anxious  about  his  client,  wondering  whether  he 
would  be  able  the  following  day  to  do  anything  for  him  ! 
So  the  days  came  and  went,  till  late  in  the  afternoon  on 
Saturday  preceding  the  Sunday  on  which  General  Grant 
called  at  the  White  House  to  read  to  the  president  his  cele- 
brated address  to  the  retiring  army.  On  the  memorable 
Saturday  afternoon  to  which  reference  is  made,  Mr.  Lang- 
ston  grown  desperate  in  his  solicitude  for  his  client,  when 
the  door-keeper  had  announced  that  the  president  would 
see  no  one  until  the  next  Tuesday,  advanced  upon  that 
person,  presuming  to  inquire  whether  he  might  not  under 
the  circumstances  crave  and  secure  his  good  offices  to  gain 
for  him  a  brief  interview  with  President  Johnson.  At  first 
the  door-keeper  shook  his  head  and  declared  that  the  presi- 
dent was  so  occupied  that  he  could  not  think  of  disturbing 
him  with  any  such  matter  as  that  suggested.  However, 
upon  recognition  of  the  person  addressing  him  as  an  old 
friend  whom  he  had  known  in  Ohio  and  whom  he  knew  to 
be  favorably  regarded  by  the  person  whom  he  sought  to 
see,  Mr.  William  Slade,  then  acting  as  the  door-keeper  of 
the  White  House,  agreed  and  promised  to  bring  his  case  at 
once  to  the  attention  of  the  president. 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.  253 

After  conducting  his  friend  into  the  library,  where  he  left 
him,  saying  that  as  soon  as  it  became  convenient  he  would 
present  his  name  to  the  president  and  make  known  the 
result,  he  bade  him  to  be  patient  and  remain  as  situated 
until  his  return.  Two  long  hours  had  passed,  when  an 
attach^  of  the  mansion  came  to  the  library,  lighted  the  gas 
and  delivered  a  message  from  Mr.  Slade,  to  the  effect  that 
Mr.  Langston  must  be  patient,  for  all  would  be  right.  Not 
long  thereafter  the  excellent  door-keeper,  entering  the  room 
and  calling  to  his  friend,  said,  "  Come  now,  Langston,  the 
president  will  see  you."  The  desired  moment  had  arrived, 
and  as  Mr.  Langston  entered  his  office  the  president  on  re- 
ceiving gave  him  a  cordial  welcome  and  greeting.  Quickly 
and  in  few  words  he  made  known  the  object  of  his  visit. 
He  was  greatly  surprised  when  the  president,  after  hearing 
him  attentively,  said  that  it  would  be  impossible  for 
him  to  give  personal  and  immediate  consideration  to  the 
case  which  he  presented.  "There  are,"  he  said,  "  a  thou- 
sand and  more  such  cases  awaiting  consideration  and  de- 
cision before  this  one.  I  cannot  promise,"  he  continued, 
"  to  do  more  than  to  refer  it  to  the  officer  charged  with  such 
matters."  He  did,  however,  permit  Mr.  Langston  to  add  a 
few  words  to  those  already  employed,  in  making  a  vigorous 
appeal  to  him  in  behalf  of  the  soldier  ;  dwelling  upon  the 
anxiety  and  solicitude  of  the  aged  father  and  dutiful  and 
loving  sister,  in  whose  name  he  came  as  well  as  that  of  the 
young  man  involved;  when  the  president,  seeming  to  be 
specially  moved,  asked  whether  Mr.  Langston's  name 
appeared  upon  the  papers  as  the  attorney  in  the  case,  he 
adding  that  he  would  see  what  he  could  do  and  saying  to 
him  that  he  might  call  again  within  two  or  three  days. 
On  leaving  President  Johnson,  meeting  Mr.  Slade  at  the 
door,  he  tarried  to  thank  him  specially  for  his  kind  valuable 
services.  Now  exhibiting  no  little  cordial  interest  in  Mr. 
Langston,  Mr.  Slade  asked  him  how  he  would  spend  his 
Sabbath,  the  next  day.  When  told  that  he  had  no  special 
engagement  he  invited  him  to  attend,  sitting  with  him  and 
his  family,  public  worship  at  the  1 5th  Street  Presbyterian 
17 


254       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

church,  and  at  its  close  dine  with  him,  to  all  which  ready 
assent  was  given,  with  suitable  acknowledgment  of  the 
honor  conferred.  At  the  appointed  time,  on  Sunday  morn- 
ing, Mr.  Langston  repaired  to  the  church  indicated,  and 
finding  Mr.  Slade's  family  pew  very  near  the  pulpit,  he 
took  a  seat  back,  which  was  more  agreeable  to  him,  since 
from  that  seat  he  could  see  and  hear  the  minister  to 
greater  satisfaction  and  advantage. 

On  that  day  the  pulpit  was  filled  by  the  Rev.  Jonathan 
Gibbs,  of  Florida,  who  discoursed  upon  a  clear  conscience 
from  the  Pauline  standpoint.  His  sermon,  full  of  learning 
and  eloquence,  occupied  only  about  half  an  hour,  when  at 
the  close  Mr.  Slade,  with  other  officers  of  the  church,  circu- 
lated baskets  for  the  usual  collection.  He,  on  reaching  the 
pew  in  which  Mr.  Langston  sat,  immediately  notified  him 
that  the  president  desired  to  see  him,  and  that  he  would  do 
well  to  go  at  once  to  the  White  House.  Handing  his  basket 
to  a  person  near  at  hand  and  taking  leave  of  his  family  in 
hurried  manner,  he  accompanied  Mr.  Langston.  They  had 
just  reached  the  door  entering  the  library  of  the  White 
House,  when  General  Grant  came  out,  and  the  president, 
calling  Mr.  Slade,  asked  if  he  had  found  Mr.  Langston. 
The  latter  answering  for  himself,  paid  his  respects  to  the 
president,  who  said  to  him,  "  I  am  on  the  mercy-seat  to-day, 
and  I  have  concluded  to  take  your  case  up  and  dispose  of  it 
at  once."  Continuing,  he  said,  "  I  suppose  you  have  been  to 
church.  If  so,  you  are  in  good  frame  of  mind  for  impartial 
honest  judgment.  Now,  sir,  from  what  you  know  of  this 
case,  were  you  president  and  I  the  attorney,  is  there  enough 
of  justice  and  merit  in  it  to  justify  your  petition  for  the  re- 
lease of  the  young  man  and  his  restoration  to  position  in  his 
regiment?  "  A  positive  affirmative  answer  was  made,  when 
his  military  secretary  was  called  and  ordered  to  make  entry 
upon  the  papers  of  the  case,  according  to  the  petition  which 
they  contained,  and  directed  to  transmit  them  to  the  honor- 
able secretary  of  war,  who  would  make  order  for  the  release 
and  reinstatement  of  the  soldier. 

No  report  of  any  proceeding  ending  happily  as  this  did 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.    255 

was  ever  made  to  an  aged  parent  and  affectionate  sister, 
which  gave  greater  joy  and  occasioned  greater  happiness  in 
a  humble  household  !  They  had  given  their  son  and 
brother  to  the  government  with  patriotic  satisfaction.  They 
had  received  him  again  to  honor  and  the  service  of  the 
government,  with  thanksgiving  and  gratitude  which  no  pen 
may  describe. 

Other  incidents  connected  with  this  visit  to  Washington 
city  are  noted  here  with  interest.  The  president  had  com- 
pleted the  service  to  which  he  had  been  asked  to  address 
himself  in  the  release  and  restoration  of  the  young  white 
soldier,  when  he  engaged  in  general  conversation  with  Mr. 
Langston  as  to  politics  and  his  profession,  inquiring  in  con- 
nection with  the  latter,  whether  he  had  been  admitted  to 
the  Supreme  Court,  and  whether  he  was  acquainted  with 
Chief  Justice  Chase,  to  whom  he  offered  to  give  him  a  let- 
ter of  introduction.  Of  course,  a  letter  from  such  exalted 
source  was  accepted  and  used,  notwithstanding  the  chief 
justice  had  known  the  bearer  of  it  for  many  years  in  Ohio. 
It  was  presented  the  next  morning,  when  the  distinguished 
recipient  welcomed  in  most  cordial  manner  his  acknowl- 
edged friend.  He  had  not  forgotten  how  in  every  political 
contest  in  which  he  had  appeared  as  the  chief  figure, 
whether  in  effort  for  election  to  the  Senate  of  the  United 
States  or  the  governorship  of  Ohio,  as  an  earnest  and  loyal 
Republican  this  friend  had  always  given  him  his  sympathy, 
influence  and  support.  Nor  did  he  put  low  estimate  upon 
the  services  which  his  visitor  had  rendered  in  such  behalf. 
He  therefore  received  and  treated  him  with  marked  con- 
sideration. After  quite  protracted  conversation  upon  polit- 
ical matters,  with  special  emphasis  and  stress  put  upon  the 
probable  use,  ultimately,  of  the  ballot  by  the  colored  Ameri- 
can, the  chief  justice  suggested  to  Mr.  Langston  that  he 
would  do  well  to  visit  and  make  the  acquaintance  of  Gen. 
O.  O.  Howard,  Commissioner  of  the  Freedmen's  Bureau, 
offering  at  the  same  time  to  give  him  a  line  of  introduction 
to  that  person.  His  introduction,  encouched  in  warm  grace- 
ful terms,  was  accepted.  The  visit  to  General  Howard  was 


256       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

in  every  sense  interesting  and  profitable.  He  had  known  of 
the  commissioner,  of  course,  by  reputation  for  many  years,  as 
one  of  the  leading  officers  of  the  army,  a  friend  of  the  negro 
race,  and  a  man  of  sterling  Christian  character  and  worth. 
His  desire  therefore  to  see  and  know  him  from  actual  obser- 
vation and  contact  was  natural.  He  found  the  general  wholly 
occupied  in  feeling  and  thought  with  the  great  philanthropic 
work  to  which  he  had  been  appointed  by  President  Lincoln, 
and  which  he  would  carry  forward,  if  possible,  to  the  utmost 
success,  in  the  name  of  the  principles  and  purposes  of  pa- 
triotism and  Christianity,  which  he  professed  and  maintained. 
He  was  not  a  little  surprised,  however,  when  the  general, 
after  dwelling  upon  the  educational  work  which  he  hoped  to 
accomplish  among  the  freed  people,  suggested  to  him  that 
at  an  early  day  he  might  need  his  assistance  in  that  special 
department  of  his  service.  He  took  his  post-office  address, 
saying  that  he  should,  according  to  his  necessities,  communi- 
cate with  him.  To  this,  however,  Mr.  Langston  replied  that 
he  desired  to  adkere  closely  to  his  law  business,  more  so 
than  he  had  been  doing  for  some  little  time.  On  leaving 
General  Howard,  with  pleasant  grateful  feelings  for  the  con- 
sideration shown  him,  he  agreed  to  answer  promptly  any 
communication  which  he  might  see  fit  to  make  him.  Then, 
after  a  hurried  introduction  to  General  Ketchum  and  Rev. 
John  W.  Alvord,  both  conspicuous  officers  of  the  Bureau, 
the  latter  being  in  charge  of  its  educational  work,  Mr. 
Langston  took  his  departure,  in  the  belief  that  President 
Lincoln  had  not  only  served  the  negro  well  in  his  emanci- 
pation, but  in  the  appointment  of  an  able  officer  and  noble 
man  to  take  care  of  his  interests,  as  he  left  slavery  for  free- 
dom. 

Not  least  among  the  interesting  incidents  of  this  visit  to 
the  capital,  stands  the  double  occurrence  of  Mr.  Langston's 
admission  to  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United  States  and 
his  mishap  with  Hon.  Jeremiah  S.  Black,  one  of  its  most 
prominent  and  noted  members.  Gen.  James  A.  Garfield 
had  known  Mr.  Langston  as  an  Ohio  lawyer  for  many 
years.  He  was  also  his  friend.  He  had  now  the  opportu- 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.     257 

nity  of  serving  and  honoring  him,  and  he  did  not  hesitate 
for  a  single  moment,  but  acted  promptly  and  in  obedience 
to  the  impulses  of  his  great,  generous  heart.  He  was  a 
member  of  the  Supreme  Court,  conspicuous  for  his  large 
ability  and  professional  success.  Accompanying  his  friend 
to  the  court,  vouching  for  his  learning,  his  experience  and 
character  as  a  practicing  attorney  and  counsellor  at  law  and 
solicitor  in  chancery  of  Ohio,  he  moved  his  admission  to 
that  court ; — and  Mr.  Langston's  certificate  of  admission 
bears  date  January  17,  1867.  He  had  passed  from  the 
court  room  proper,  having  thanked  General  Garfield  for  the 
kind  service  which  he  had  rendered  him,  and  but  just 
entered  the  clerk's  office  across  the  hall-way,  to  pay  for 
and  secure  his  certificate  of  admission  to  the  court,  as  the 
Hon.  Jeremiah  S.  Black  entered  hurriedly  to  ask  the  clerk, 
Mr.  D.  W.  Middleton,  to  give  him  small  bills  for  a  twenty- 
dollar  note.  When  he  found  that  Mr.  Middleton  could  not 
accommodate  him,  turning  to  Mr.  Langston,  he  inquired 
whether  he  had  small  bills  and  would  serve  him.  Taking 
his  money  from  his  pocket,  he  was  in  the  act  of  granting 
his  request,  when  he  asked,  "  Have  I  the  honor  of  address- 
ing the  Hon.  Thaddeus  Stevens?"  to  which  Mr.  Black 
— extending  one  hand  for  the  change  and  the  other  with 
which  he  would  pass  the  twenty-dollar  bill,  greatly  agitated 
and  meantime  backing,  as  if  he  would  leave  the  office  by 
such  movement,  so  that  Mr.  Langston  was  compelled  to 
advance  towards  him — with  frowns  and  oaths  answered, 
"  No,  sir  !  No,  sir  !  You  have  not !  " 

As  Mr.  Langston  turned  to  the  clerk,  he  found  him  shak- 
ing with  laughter,  as  he  declared,  "  That  is  the  best  joke  of 
the  season.  Black  would  not  have  had  you  call  him 
Stevens  for  the  largest  fee  he  has  received  for  the  past  ten 
years."  These  two  great  Pennsylvanians,  lawyers  of 
acknowledged  talent  and  power,  politicians  ranking  as  the 
leaders  of  their  respective  parties,  extremely  ultra  in  senti- 
ment and  feeling,  were  opposed  to  each  other  for  reasons 
which  may  be  easily  imagined,  and  accordingly  entertained 
towards  each  other  personal  animosity  of  deep  and  unyield- 
ing character. 


258       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Not  only  in  the  professional  success  which  attended  this 
call  to  Washington  was  Mr.  Langston  specially  favored, 
but  by  the  occurrences  detailed,  which  added  not  a  little  to 
his  subsequent  advancement  and  interest. 

Shortly  after  his  return  to  his  home  and  business  in 
Oberlin,  Ohio,  in  April,  1867,  Mr.  Langston  was  made  the 
recipient  of  several  telegrams  in  a  single  day,  calling  him 
to  duty  under  the  national  government.  It  seemed  to  him 
that  he  had  barely  had  time  to  report  his  professional 
success  to  his  venerable  client  and  his  daughter,  who  were  so 
solicitous  for  the  soldier  son  and  brother.  He,  certainly,  had 
not  been  able  to  do  more  than  to  tell  his  friends,  imperfectly 
however,  with  enthusiasm  of  the  sights  and  scenes  which  he 
had  observed  in  Washington  city,  and  of  the  great  men 
met  there,  whose  words  and  influence  he  still  retained  and 
felt,  as  they  moved  him. 

He  inclined  to  accept  the  call,  yet  he  loved  his  profession 
and  its  pleasant  duties.  He  was  devoted  to  his  home,  and 
was  always  anxious  to  discharge  every  obligation  to  his 
family.  He  was  indisposed,  in  fact  it  was  with  the  greatest 
difficulty  that  he  could  think  with  the  least  degree  of 
allowance,  of  breaking,  even  for  a  season,  those  tender  local 
and  neighborly  ties  which  connected  him  with  the  com- 
munity in  which  he  lived.  He  had  been  educated  in  Ober- 
lin, and  he  had  been  honored  by  frequent  popular  express- 
ions in  his  favor,  even  elected  to  office  upon  the  generous 
vote  of  its  friendly  considerate  citizens.  Now  he  was  called 
to  debate  seriously,  and  at  first  he  doubted  whether  it 
would  be  wise  for  him  to  leave  his  actual  position,  so  agree- 
able and  promising  in  every  way,  for  one  whose  cares,  re- 
sponsibilities and  dangers  he  did  not  and  could  not  fully 
understand  and  appreciate.  And  yet  the  call  of  duty 
seemed  to  have  reached  him. 

It  was  not  easy  for  him  to  make  decision  in  this  matter. 
Not  until  his  wife  suggested  to  him  that  it  might  be  well  to 
return  to  the  national  capital  and  confer  with  those  who 
sought  his  services  before  he  reached  final  conclusion  in 
the  premises,  could  he  bring  himself  to  the  serious  enter- 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.  259 

tainment  of  the  proposition  to  quit  even  temporarily  his 
profession  for  any  service  of  the  government.  Finally,  he 
accepted  this  suggestion.  He  promised  his  friends  and 
several  clients  that  he  would  certainly  return  to  his  busi- 
ness again  in  a  short  time.  He  made  all  arrangements  for 
his  return  to  the  capital,  having  set  in  order  everything  at 
his  office  and  made  engagements  for  the  care  and  prosecu- 
tion of  all  business  in  his  hands  requiring  immediate  atten- 
tion. He  turned  sadly  and  mechanically,  as  a  friend  said, 
from  his  office  door,  after  locking  it,  and  made  his  way 
homeward.  On  entering  the  house,  as  the  family  had 
gathered  for  its  usual  mid-day  meal,  the  questions  met  him 
from  all  sides,  "  Are  you  going?  Have  you  concluded  to 
leave?  When  will  you  return?"  To  none  of  these  ques- 
tions, whether  addressed  by  child  or  adult,  under  the  affect- 
ing circumstances,  was  he  able  to  make  ready  positive 
answer.  He  did  reply,  "  I  think  I  will  go."  The  sub- 
ject was  a  serious  one  and  solemn  enough  ;  and  the  response, 
whatever  its  character,  came  from  a  heart  full  of  doubt, 
burdened  with  the  deepest  anxiety.  And  yet  decision  had 
really  been  made  and  the  purpose  to  leave  for  Washington 
directed  every  step  and  arrangement  to  such  end. 

The  real  cause  that  produced  hesitation  and  indecision 
in  this  case  after  all,  was  found  in  the  apprehension  that 
Mr.  Langston  might  not  return  to  those  old  ways  of  the 
law  along  which  he  had  been  passing  for  so  many  years, 
in  pleasant,  delightful  occupation.  It  did  really  seem  to 
him  that  he  stood  at  the  mouth  of  the  grave,  in  which  he 
was  consigning  to  mother  earth  the  remains  of  that  which 
he  would  not,  and  yet  must  leave ;  whose  presence  gone,  he 
seemed  to  have  met  his  greatest  loss  !  Then  came  the  fear, 
intensified  through  the  kind  offices  of  the  imagination,  that 
the  new  task  upon  which  he  was  about  to  enter  might  not 
be  agreeable  ;  might  prove  to  be  difficult  and  unpromising  ; 
and  in  his  attempts  to  perform  it  according  to  any  expec- 
tations which  he  or  others  may  have  formed,  he  might  fail, 
and  he  be  compensated,  not  in  success  and  honor,  but  in 
failure  and  disappointment. 


260       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

At  last,  the  spirit  of  his  manhood  asserted  itself,  and  in 
defiance  of  real  obstacles,  prospective,  imaginary  difficulties, 
his  purpose  became  fixed  to  meet  any  duty  before  him 
with  reasonable  courage,  and  a  few  days  only  had  elapsed 
before  he  was  for  the  second  time  in  the  presence  of  Gen. 
O.  O.  Howard.  After  greetings  had  been  exchanged,  he 
was  told  that  his  arrival  was  opportune,  giving  satisfaction. 
The  general  said,  in  substance  :  "  We  need  you,  and  shall  pro- 
ceed without  delay  to  explain  the  work  which  we  desire 
you  to  undertake.  It  will  be  difficult  enough,  taxing  all 
the  ability,  all  the  learning,  all  the  eloquence,  with  all  the 
wisdom,  discretion  and  self-sacrifice  which  you  may  pos- 
sess. You  will  be  appointed  and  commissioned  as  General 
Inspector  of  the  Bureau  of  Refugees,  Freedmen  and  Aban- 
doned Lands.  As  such  officer,  you  will  address  yourself  in 
all  parts  of  the  country  to  which  you  shall  be  sent,  to 
arousing,  inspiring  and  encouraging  the  freed  people,  espe- 
cially in  earnest  and  intelligent  effort  to  cultivate  and  sus- 
tain among  themselves,  all  those  things  which  pertain  to 
dignified,  useful  American  life ;  to  impress  upon  them  the 
importance  of  educating  themselves  and  their  children,  of 
laboring  intelligently  and  diligently  to  accumulate  and  save 
those  means  indispensable  to  their  location  in  comfortable 
necessary  homes,  and  of  so  demeaning  themselves  in  all 
their  new  relations  to  the  community,  that  while  prejudices 
and  feelings  of  hatred  against  them  are  allayed  and 
removed,  they  may  win  the  respect  and  gain  the  confidence 
even  of  those  who  formerly  held  them  in  bondage.  To 
accomplish  this  object,"  the  general  continued,  "  in  all  your 
efforts,  and  especially  in  your  set  addresses,  while  you  are 
plain  and  honest  in  your  utterances  to  the  freed  people, 
you  must  be  so  cautious^and  discreet  as  not  to  provoke  the 
ill-will  of  those,  who,  chagrined  at  their  defeat  in  the  field, 
were  opposed  not  only  to  the  emancipation  of  the  slaves, 
but  to  all  efforts  on  the  part  of  the  general  government 
having  in  view  their  education  and  the  amelioration  of  their 
material,  moral,  religious  and  political  condition.  Your 
field  of  labor,"  he  said,  "  will  be  the  whole  South,  including 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.     261 

the  District  of  Columbia,  Maryland,  Kentucky,  Tennessee  and 
Missouri.  You  will  be  ordered  here  and  there,  as  the  exi- 
gencies of  the  service  may  require,  and  wherever  you  go, 
putting  yourself  in  communication  with  the  officers  and 
agents  of  the  Bureau,  you  will  discover  and  report  any 
short-comings  or  omissions  of  duty  on  their  part,  while  you 
may  ask  of  them  any  service  calculated  to  advance  the 
interests  of  the  people  through  your  own  instrumentality 
and  labors.  It  is  the  purpose  of  this  Bureau,  and  its  man- 
agement must  tend  constantly  to  that  end,  to  accomplish 
in  the  largest  practicable  manner,  the  objects  of  its  creation." 
Moved  now  by  the  enthusiasm  of  a  genuine  philanthropist, 
the  general  stated  that  among  those  objects  the  general 
improvement  of  the  freed  people,  as  they  are  found  making 
such  headway  as  seems  to  be  possible  to  them  among  the 
classes  constituting  their  former  owners,  must  be  regarded 
and  treated  as  of  the  first  importance,  and  he  emphasized 
and  impressed  this  consideration  according  to  his  judg- 
ment and  feeling  of  its  necessity  and  dignity.  Above  all 
things  the  importance  and  necessity  of  education,  economy, 
industry  and  virtue  should  be  impressed  upon  them.  Intem- 
perance, the  inordinate  and  expensive  use  of  tobacco,  with 
all  those  extravagant  habits  of  ordinary  life  among  the 
more  ignorant  classes  of  society,  should  as  rapidly  as  possi- 
ble be  removed  so  far  as  they  are  concerned,  and  the  bad 
effects  of  such  outlays  and  habits  upon  body,  soul  and 
fortune,  be  carefully  and  wisely  explained  to  them.  They 
must  be  made  if  possible,  an  intelligent,  thrifty,  valuable 
class  of  the  population.  Rising  from  his  seat  at  this  point, 
and  raising  his  left  hand  with  emphatic  gesture  of  the 
same,  he  said,  "  Mr.  Langston,  this  is  your  work  ;  here  is 
your  field  ;  do  you  accept  this  mission?  You  may  not  say 
no,  for  your  duty  to  your  country  and  your  race,  not  less 
than  that  to  your  Heavenly  Father,  who  has  so  signally 
blessed  you,  commands  it!  From  this  moment,  we  shall 
count  you  our  officer  and  agent,  and  at  an  early  day  your 
commission  as  the  General  Inspector  of  the  Bureau,  with 
carefully  prepared  instructions,  embodying,  substantially, 


262       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

my  explanations,  shall  be  draughted,  duly  signed  and  con- 
veyed to  you.  Until  then  you  may  make  such  survey  of 
the  school  work  under  the  Bureau,  in  this  city  and  Alex- 
andria, as  may  be  convenient  and  agreeable  to  you,  report- 
ing from  day  to  day  at  these  headquarters.  Your  pay  will 
begin  at  once." 

Thus  Mr.  Langston  was  given,  in  earnest,  emphatic  state- 
ment, explanation  of  the  great  work  to  which  he  had  been 
called.  Its  dignity,  importance  and  necessity  were  fully 
appreciated  ;  so  much  so  that  he  was  led  to  question  his 
ability  to  meet  the  expectations  which  were  entertained 
with  respect  to  the  results  of  his  labors.  He  felt  that  he 
had  been  honored  exceedingly,  and  did  not  fail  to  realize 
that  his  appointment  to  such  a  duty  was  an  exalted  ex- 
pression of  confidence  as  to  his  fitness  therefor.  He  com- 
menced his  work  accordingly  in  the  cities  of  Washington 
and  Alexandria. 

He  was  not  permitted  to  remain  in  Washington  city  long 
without  his  commission,  formal  instructions  and  first  order 
to  duty.  He  made  his  first  tour  through  the  State  of  Mary- 
land, embracing  visits  specially  to  Baltimore  and  Frederick. 
At  the  latter  place  he  met  and  addressed  an  immense  con- 
course of  freed  people,  with  Gen.  O.  O.  Howard,  Gen. 
Charles  H.  Howard  and  Judge  Bond  present.  He  delivered 
the  principal  address,  although  the  other  persons  named 
followed  in  appropriate,  pertinent  remarks.  They  all  gave 
the  newly  appointed  inspector  special  attention,  and  upon 
the  conclusion  of  his  address,  paid  him  many  compliments. 
On  returning  to  the  capital  within  a  very  few  days  there- 
after, he  received  his  second  order  to  another  field  of  duty. 

He  was  directed  to  make  a  tour  of  the  State  of  Virginia, 
visiting  Alexandria,  Leesburg,  Culpepper  Court  House, 
Orange  Court  House,  Charlottsville,  Gordonsville,  Louisa 
Court  House,  Richmond,  Petersburg,  and  thence  return- 
ing, Fredericksburg.  At  all  these  places  the  schools  of  the 
freed  people  were  duly  and  thoroughly  examined,  and  the 
scholars  carefully  instructed  as  to  the  necessity  and  advan- 
tage of  diligence  and  care  in  the  performance  of  their  duties, 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.  263 

and  the  obligation  which  rested  upon  them  to  so  demean 
themselves  in  general  ordinary  life  as  to  win  the  respect 
and  the  consideration  of  those  in  whose  midst  they  lived. 
Besides,  great  concourses  of  the  people  were  addressed  upon 
all  those  subjects — educational,  moral,  political,  industrial, 
and  social — which  concerned  their  highest  good  and  most 
enduring  welfare. 

To  say  that  this  trip  was  interesting  to  the  inspector  who 
thus  visited  the  schools  and  addressed  the  scholars  and  the 
people,  is  only  to  describe  his  feelings  in  the  faintest  man- 
ner. Here  time  can  only  be  given  to  hurried  accounts  of 
the^neetings  and  any  incidents  connected  therewith,  ad- 
dressed at  Leesburg,  Louisa  Court  House  and  Richmond  ; 
and  those  at  such  places  are  specially  referred  to  with  their 
incidents,  because  of  their  importance,  representative  char- 
acter and  interest. 

That  Mr.  Langston's  position  with  respect  to  the  Repub- 
lican party  and  the  advocacy  of  its  principles,  measures  and 
men  at  the  great  meetings  which  he  addressed  may  be 
properly  understood,  it  should  be  stated  that  from  the 
time  he  entered  upon  his  duties  as  general  inspector  of  the 
Bureau,  he  acted  by  special  engagement  as  the  representa- 
tive and  duly  accredited  advocate  of  that  party.  Nowhere, 
therefore,  as  he  traveled  and  spoke,  did  he  fail  to  present  and 
defend  in  moderate,  wise  manner,  its  claims  upon  the  support 
of  the  newly  emancipated  classes  and  their  friends. 

Sometimes,  and  at  special  places,  he  met  distinguished 
advocates  of  Republicanism,  particularly  upon  his  tour 
through  Virginia,  when  such  advocates  made  bold  and 
positive  assertion  and  defence  of  the  past  action  and  pro- 
spective measures  of  the  party,  urging  their  hearers  to  give 
it  their  sympathy  and  support  by  influence  and  vote.  On 
such  occasions,  Mr.  Langston  was  not  behind  the  boldest  in 
earnest  and  decided  utterance  or  action  in  favor  of  the  dis- 
tinctive doctrines  of  that  party.  The  meeting  at  Leesburg 
was  one  at  which  distinguished  Republican  orators  made 
their  appearance  and  delivered  speeches  in  its  favor. 

On    the  second    day  of   June,  1867,  accompanied  by  Mr. 


264       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

William  B.  Downey,  Generals  Farnsworth  and  Pierce,  and 
Col.  L.  Edwin  Dudley,  Mr.  Langston  left  Washington  city 
for  Leesburg,  where  all  the  persons  named  were  announced 
to  speak  at  a  mass-meeting  of  Republicans  to  be  held  that 
day  at  that  place.  And  on  the  next  day,  as  the  Lees- 
burg  meeting  would  be,  in  fact,  continued,  they  would 
speak  at  the  beautiful  Quaker  town,  Hamilton,  situated  at 
the  foot  of  the  mountains,  twelve  miles  away.  The  com- 
pany reached  Leesburg  a  few  minutes  before  midday,  and 
took  quarters  at  the  only  Republican  hotel  in  the  place. 
Dinner  was  served  at  one  o'clock,  and  the  meeting  had  been 
called  to  be  opened  an  hour  later.  When  dinner  w^l  an- 
nounced, Mr.  Langston,  as  had  been  his  custom  always, 
answered  the  bell  by  walking  at  once  to  the  dining-room, 
to  take  his  meal  with  his  friends  at  the  first  table.  At  the 
dining-room  door,  he  was  met  by  the  landlord  himself,  who 
told  him  that  he  could  not  go  in,  that  he  could  not  eat  at 
the  table.  At  this  moment,  General  Farnsworth  came  up 
and  inquired,  "  What  is  the  matter?"  To  this  question  the 
landlord  replied,  "  This  man  wants  to  go  in  the  dining- 
room  and  take  his  dinner  at  my  first  table  with  my  white 
boarders.  He  shall  not  do  it."  General  Farnsworth  replied, 
saying,  "  He  will  do  so,  if  he  wishes,  for  he  is  with  us,  and 
we  propose  to  stand  by  him."  Colonel  Dudley  appearing 
and  hearing  this  remark  of  the  general,  said,  "Yes,  we  do  !  " 
Mr.  Langston  said,  then,  "  Mr.  Landlord,  I  shall  eat  my 
dinner  now,  with  my  friends,  if  there  is  no  good  reason  why 
I  should  not."  Whereupon  the  landlord  answered,  "  If  I 
should  let  you  go  in  and  eat  now,  my  hotel  and  all  the  prop- 
erty I  own  would  be  burned  up  as  soon  as  you  left  this 
town,  and  I  beg  you,  Mr.  Langston,  to  let  me  arrange  your 
dinner  in  your  room.  You  shall  have  waiters  and  everything 
which  the  hotel  can  furnish,  to  your  taste  and  desire." 
"  Mr.  Landlord,"  Mr.  Langston  asked  seriously,  "  will  they 
burn  your  hotel?"  "Yes,  "he  said,  "  they  will!  That  I 
fear,  and  for  that  reason  only,  I  object  to  your  taking  your 
place  with  your  friends  at  the  table."  "  Then,"  said  Mr. 
Langston,  "you  may  arrange  my  dinner  in  my  room,  and 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.    265 

Colonel  Dudley  and  I  will  dine  there  together,  so  prepare  for 
two."  This  was  done,  and  the  landlord  was  relieved  of 
every  apprehension. 

The  meeting  was  in  all  respects  a  great  success.  In 
numbers,  in  good  order,  in  the  attention  paid  the  speakers 
and  in  the  promise  of  good  and  lasting  results  it  could  not 
have  been  surpassed.  It  made  such  impression  even  upon 
the  minds  of  the  leading  white  men  of  the  place,  that  the 
mayor,  who  had  been  invited  to  act  as  its  presiding  officer 
and  who  had  declined  that  honor,  after  witnessing  the  char- 
acter of  the  gathering  and  listening  to  the  admirable  ad- 
dresses delivered,  expressed  the  deepest  regret  that  he  had 
foregone  the  distinction  which  had  been  proffered  him. 

Upon  the  close  of  this  branch  of  the  meeting  at  Lees- 
burg,  the  gentlemen  named,  including  Mr.  Langston,  took 
carriages  late  in  the  evening  and  drove  by  a  most  pictur- 
esque route  to  Hamilton.  At  this  place  they  spent  the 
night  in  Quaker  families  of  the  neighborhood,  where  all  was 
genuine  happiness  and  pleasure.  Early  the  next  morning, 
by  special  invitation,  the  whole  company  went  upon  a  most 
exhilarating  horseback  ride  across  a  branch  of  the  Alle- 
gheny mountains,  when  upon  their  return  they  partook 
of  a  general  breakfast  of  the  most  inviting  and  relishing 
character,  prepared  and  offered  by  the  most  wealthy  and 
prominent  Quaker  of  the  neighborhood.  At  ten  o'clock  an 
immense  meeting  had  convened,  when  the  exercises  for  the 
day  were  opened.  This  meeting  was  a  great,  impressive  pic- 
nic gathering  held  in  the  midst  of  a  grove  naturally  beau- 
tiful beyond  possibility  of  just  description.  A  sight 
interesting  and  delightful  was  furnished  at  midday,  when  a 
recess  was  taken  and  the  vast  assembly  broke  itself  up  into 
groups  of  friends  and  neighbors  to  partake  of  their  respect- 
ive bountiful  delicious  lunches.  Nothing  could  have  ap- 
peared more  neighborly,  more  cordial  and  delightful.  It 
may  not  be  inappropriate  to  state  here,  that  it  was  during 
this  time  that  the  beauty  and  gallantry  of  the  occasion 
manifested  themselves  in  their  most  signal,  striking  man- 
ner. Even  the  staid  orators  of  the  occasion  were  moved  to 


266       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

such  displays  of  genteel  behavior,  as  to  win  many  a  kindly 
expression  of  the  handsome,  cultured  Virginia  ladies  who 
gave  Mat  to  the  meeting  by  their  presence. 

It  was  not  until  the  day  had  passed  far  on  toward  sunset 
that  this  meeting  was  brought  to  a  close,  and  all  con- 
cluded that  the  one  held  at  Leesburg  and  this  one  at 
Hamilton,  constituted,  taken  together,  a  grand,  magnificent 
display  for  Loudoun  County,  in  favor  of  Republican  princi- 
ples. Leaving  this  beautiful  Quaker  neighborhood  with 
feelings  of  special  gratitude  and  pleasure,  the  company, 
composed  as  already  described,  came  directly  back  to  Lees- 
burg  to  take  the  train  for  Washington  city.  However, 
having  an  hour  or  more  to  wait  for  the  train,  the  gentlemen 
all  went  to  the  hotel  at  which  they  had  stopped  the  day 
before,  to  get  supper.  To  their  surprise  they  were  refused 
entertainment,  "  because  they  had  with  them  the  negro 
orator,  Langston,"  who  had  insisted  the  day  before  upon 
eating  in  the  dining-room  and  at  the  first  table.  Leaving 
this  hotel,  with  its  Republican  landlord,  they  went  directly 
across  the  street  to  a  house  kept  by  a  Democrat  and  an 
ex-rebel,  who  received  them  kindly,  giving  them  every  atten- 
tion, not  changing  his  conduct  toward  them  even  after  he 
had  read,  in  looking  over  his  register,  upon  which  the 
strangers  had  each  written  his  name,  in  bold,  firm  hand — 

JOHN  MERCER  LANGSTON, 
Negro,  Oberlin, 

Lorain  County, 
Ohio. 

Shortly  after  this  occurrence,  the  hotel  of  the  Republican 
landlord  was  burned  to  the  ground  ;  and  that  of  his  Demo- 
cratic neighbor,  who  would  not  abuse  a  colored  wayfarer, 
who,  tired,  worn  and  hungry,  knocked  at  the  door  of  his 
house,  became  the  popular  one  of  the  town,  its  business 
greatly  improving  and  its  revenues  materially  increasing, 
through  the  patronage  of  those  who  turned  from  the  for 
mer  because  of  his  unhandsome  conduct,  and  to  the  latter 
because  of  his  unexpected,  generous  and  manly  behavior. 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.     267 

This  feeling  and  result  had  manifested  themselves  before 
the  hotel  was  burned,  and  thus  the  Republican  landlord 
lost  more  than  he  gained  by  his  illegal  and  unseemly  con- 
duct. He  sowed  the  wind  ;  he  reaped  the  whirlwind  ! 

At  noon,  on  the  fifteenth  day  of  June,  1867,  Mr.  Langston 
reached  Louisa  Court  House,  Virginia,  this  being  his  first 
visit  to  that  place  since  his  departure  therefrom,  a  mere 
child,  in  1834.  He  was  accompanied  by  several  friends, 
officers  of  the  Bureau  and  others,  prominent  citizens  of 
Louisa  County.  He  had  spoken  at  Gordonsville  the  day 
before,  and  had  been  met  there  by  parties  who  had  accom- 
panied him,  as  stated.  He  was  welcomed  at  the  depot  and 
conducted  to  his  hotel  by  a  club  of  colored  men  numbering 
fifteen  hundred.  It  divided  itself  into  two  sections  of  seven 
hundred  and  fifty  each,  and  Mr.  Langston,  leaning  upon  the 
arm  of  its  president,  a  white  man,  Captain  McCracken, 
walked  between  these  sections  to  the  Louisa  Hotel,  where 
rooms  had  been  taken  for  him  and  where  with  his  friends  he 
was  to  be  entertained.  As  he  was  about  entering  the 
door  of  the  hotel,  tarrying  for  a  moment  to  observe  the 
vast  concourse  of  people,  white  and  black,  convening,  he 
caught  sight  of  a  large,  fine  looking,  intelligent,  influen- 
tial man,  apparently  white,  who  seemed  to  be  greatly 
angered  at  what  was  taking  place.  He  immediately  asked 
the  gentleman  who  was  conducting  him  to  his  rooms,  who 
this  was  and  what  was  the  matter  with  him,  to  which 
reply  was  made  that,  "The  person  is  General  Gordon, 
the  meanest  rebel  in  the  country.  He  is  mad  because  we 
are  having  this  meeting  and  you  are  to  address  us.  He 
would  break  it  up  if  he  could.  But,  thank  God,  he  cannot 
do  it."  These  words  of  the  president  of  the  club  stirred  a 
little  bit  the  anxiety  of  Mr.  Langston.  However,  he  be- 
came at  once  reassured  when  informed  that  the  whole 
county  had  come  out,  so  far  as  the  whites  were  concerned, 
to  see  and  hear  "  Quarles*  boy  "  ;  and  so  far  as  the  colored 
people  were  concerned,  they  had  all  come  to  see  and  hear 
"  Lucy's  son,"  and  that  there  would  be  no  disturbance  of 
the  meeting. 


268       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Mr.  Lan^ston  had  reached  his  rooms  and  his  friends  had 
just  left  him,  when  a  young  white  man,  entering  without  the 
least  ceremony,  put  to  him  the  following  question  :  "  Are 
you  one  of  us  ?  "  Mr.  Langston  hesitating,  said  he  did  not 
quite  understand  the  question,  when  the  young  man  repeat- 
ing himself,  inquired,  "  Are  you  one  of  us?"  Still  hesita- 
ting, and  begging  his  pardon  for  any  obtusencss  he  might 
show,  he  said  to  the  young  man,  "Please  explain  your- 
self," when  he  asked,  "  Are  you  a  Virginian  ?  And  were 
you  born  in  our  county  ? "  To  both  these  questions,  Mr. 
Langston  answering,  said,  "Yes,  I  was  born  in  this  county, 
three  miles  from  this  court  house;  and  if  the  facts  that 
my  father  and  mother  are  buried  here ;  that  the  record  of 
my  birth,  settlement  and  status  are  kept  in  the  archives  of 
this  county,  and  that  I  am  interested  in  everything  that 
pertains  to  the  welfare  of  this  old  Commonwealth,  would 
make  me  a  Virginian,  then  I  am  one."  Thereupon  the 
young  man  said,  "  Then  you  must  speak  from  my  porch,  for 
all  distinguished  Virginians  who  speak  here  always  speak 
from  it."  At  this  point  Captain  McCracken  entered  the 
room  to  introduce  Mr.  Langston  to  the  owner  and  proprietor 
of  the  hotel,  the  gentleman  in  conversation  with  him.  When 
he  disclosed  what  had  been  said,  the  captain  asked  the  hotel- 
keeper  whether  he  was  in  earnest  and  was  willing  to  have 
his  porch  used  by  the  meeting.  He  replied  promptly, 
"Yes,  I  want  Mr.  Langston  to  speak  from  it."  Arrange- 
ments had  been  made  for  speaking  from  the  steps  of  the 
court  house,  but  a  change  was  immediately  made,  and  at 
two  o'clock  the  speaker  was  conducted  to  the  porch  of  the 
hotel,  in  front  of  which  he  found  an  immense  concourse  of 
people,  white  and  black.  His  reception  was  of  the  most 
cordial  sort,  every  person  present  seeming  to  be  in  good  na- 
ture and  pleased,  except  General  Gordon,  who  was  seen 
standing  upon  the  extreme  right  of  the  audience,  full  of 
spite  and  anger. 

On  being  introduced  by  Captain  McCracken,  Mr.  Lang- 
ston found  himself  confronting  an  audience  composed  of 
sons  and  daughters  of  Virginia,  men  and  women,  those 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.     269 

high  in  official  place  and  those  pursuing  the  humbler  walks 
of  life,  aggregating  avast  concourse  of  thousands  of  persons 
with  whose  names  he  had  been  familiar  from  his  childhood. 
Although  he  had  left  them  and  their  neighborhood  many 
years  before,  such  was  their  spontaneous  greeting  that  he 
felt  in  their  presence  as  if  he  had  returned  to  the  bosom  of 
those  who  were  his  friends.  All  were  attentive,  and  as  he 
opened  his  remarks,  demonstrated  in  appearance  and  be- 
havior their  deep  interest  in  him.  His  speech  was  com- 
menced with  kindly  affectionate  allusions  to  his  father  and 
mother  ;  his  birthplace  and  old  home ;  the  death  and  burial 
of  his  parents  ;  their  resting-place,  side  by  side  upon  the 
plantation  a  short  distance  away,  where  they  had  lived  to- 
gether so  many  years ;  the  executors,  Nathaniel  Mills, 
Quarles  Thomson,  John  R.  Quarles  and  William  D.  Gooch, 
influential,  prominent  Virginia  gentlemen  who  had  so 
wisely  and  efficiently  settled  his  father's  estate  to  the  satis- 
faction of  all  concerned,  securing  to  certain  emancipated 
persons  named  in  the  will  of  his  father,  their  freedom  and 
their  bequests.  He  told  how  after  so  many  years  had 
passed  and  the  great  war  had  ground  the  shackles  of  the 
enslaved  to  dust,  and  all  were  free,  white  and  black,  and 
all  were  at  peace,  uniting  in  a  common  purpose  to  make  the 
country  great,  prosperous  and  happy,  he  rejoiced  to  stand 
before  such  an  audience  in  the  county  of  his  nativity, 
in  the  Commonwealth  of  the  Old  Dominion,  in  whose  wel- 
fare he  could  not  be  otherwise  than  deeply  interested  as  a 
loyal  and  devoted  son.  These  introductory  remarks  occu- 
pied his  attention  for  quite  fifteen  minutes,  when  turning  to 
his  right  to  address  the  presiding  officer,  as  he  would  enter 
upon  the  formal  address  to  be  delivered,  he  found  General 
Gordon  occupying  a  chair  upon  the  porch — the  platform  of 
the  meeting,  upon  which  were  seated  the  gray-headed  ven- 
erable men  prominent  in  society  and  influential  in  the  com- 
munity— placed  very  near  the  spot  which  he  occupied.  The 
general  adjusting  himself  in  his  seat,  fastened  his  eyes  and 
attention  upon  the  speaker,  to  whom  he  gave  the  strictest 
audience  for  over  two  hours  and  a  half.  Upon  the  close  of 
18 


270       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

the  speech,  advancing,  he  offered  the  speaker  his  hand,  which 
was  at  once  taken,  while  he  exclaimed,  "  Langston,  you  are 
one  of  us,  and  we  are  proud  of  you  ! " 

Then  followed  a  scene  which  can  never  be  forgotten. 
The  vast  assembly,  moving  in  thousands  across  .the  porch, 
greeted  Mr.  Langston,  as  he  stood,  with  kind  words  and 
expressions  calculated  to  touch  and  move  his  feelings.  The 
venerable  white  men,  besides  expressing  to  him  their  kindly 
sentiments,  assured  him  that  they  had  known  his  father 
and  were  sincerely  and  profoundly  considerate  of  his  welfare. 
The  aged  negroes,  burdened  with  cares  and  many  of  them 
broken  by  the  tasks  of  their  former  lives,  extending  their 
hands,  said  to  him,  "  God  bless  you  !  God  bless  you  !  We 
knew  your  mother  !  We  never  expected  to  see  this  day  ! 
Thank  God  !  Thank  God  !  We  are  glad  to  see  and  hear 
you." 

Exhausted  by  his  effort  and  such  kindly,  yet  taxing  treat- 
ment, Mr.  Langston  was  compelled  to  ask  his  friends  to  let 
him  repair  to  his  rooms,  where  perhaps,  after  a  brief  rest,  he 
might  be  somewhat  restored  to  his  wonted  strength  and 
vigor.  As  he  left  the  porch,  he  was  surprised  to  find  that 
General  Gordon,  who  had  stood  near  him  during  every 
second  of  the  time  occupied  with  the  closing  scenes  of  the 
meeting,  now  assisted  him,  with  Captain  McCracken,  to  his 
rooms.  On  reaching  them,  as  he  was  about  to  lie  down,  the 
general,  adjusting  the  pillows  upon  the  bed,  said  to  him, 
"  Before  you  go  to  sleep,  let  me  beg  your  pardon  for  the 
many  blasphemous,  vulgar  expressions  which  I  have  made 
against  you  and  against  your  coming  here  to  address  our 
people.  I  trust  you  will  forgive  me.  So  much  I  desired  to 
say  to  you  myself,  and  to  bid  you  now  the  heartiest  wel- 
come to  the  community.  We  are  all  proud  of  you  !  Your 
wonderful  speech  will  do  us  incalculable  service."  With 
such  expressions  of  changed  kindly  feeling,  Qeneral  Gordon 
left  the  rooms,  leaving  Mr.  Langston  to  wonder  in  amazement 
and  yet  in  delight,  at  the  altered  and  improved  sentiments 
which  he  had  just  employed. 

After  resting    perhaps  an  hour,  on  rising  Mr.  Langston 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.     271 

having  made  his  toilet,  with  due  reference  thereto,  went 
with  his  friends  to  the  house  and  home  of  Captain 
McCracken,  to  dine  with  him  and  certain  Republicans  of 
local  note  who  had  been  invited.  Dinner  had  just  been 
announced  and  company  was  moving  toward  the  dining- 
room,  when  a  knock  was  heard  at  the  front  door,  which  was 
answered  by  Captain  McCracken  himself.  On  opening  it, 
he  found  to  the  astonishment  of  all  present,  that  General 
Gordon  with  a  friend  had  come  to  invite  Mr.  Langston, 
in  the  name  of  the  white  ladies  of  Louisa  Court  House  and 
its  neighborhood,  to  -  address  them  that  evening  in  the 
Baptist  church  of  the  place.  At  first  his  friends  objected, 
fearing  that  some  difficulty  might  result.  On  the  assurance 
of  General  Gordon  that  the  invitation  was  sincere,  that  the 
ladies  desired  to  hear  him,  and  that  he  should  be  not  only 
well  treated  but  entirely  protected,  with  full  liberty  to 
speak  in  the  freest  manner,  the  invitation  was  accepted. 
General  Gordon  declared  himself  ready  to  preside  at  the 
meeting,  to  introduce  the  speaker,  and  to  guarantee  him  the 
fullest  protection.  Certainly,  Louisa  Court  House  has  never 
witnessed  a  more  beautiful,  orderly,  enthusiastic  female 
assembly  than  that  which  greeted  Mr.  Langston  on  the  even- 
ing of  the  fourteenth  of  June,  1867,  in  the  church  mentioned. 
The  beautiful  Virginia  daughters  of  Louisa  County  gave 
him  a  royal,  memorable  reception.  He  addressed  them  on 
"The  duty  of  the  American  woman  in  this  hour  of  our  re- 
construction." Upon  the  close  of  his  remarks,  General 
Gordon,  who  had  been  called  to  act  as  the  presiding  officer 
of  the  meeting,  delivered  in  endorsement  of  the  address  of 
the  afternoon  and  the  speech  of  the  evening,  an  utterance 
which  was  no  less  characterized  by  its  learning  and  eloquence 
than  its  cordial  courtesy  and  profound  friendly  sentiments. 
He  was  really  learned ;  he  was  enthusiastic  and  eloquent, 
in  the  most  exalted  and  captivating  sense ;  his  periods 
were  radiant  with  the  jewels  of  the  most  elegant,  luminous 
rhetoric.  His  was  the  speech  of  a  generous,  noble  Virginian, 
containing  the  fervor  and  charm  of  the  most  soul-stirring 
utterance.  He  showed  himself  an  orator  of  large  and  com- 


272       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

manding  power.  At  the  conclusion  of  the  meeting,  Mr. 
Langston  was  made  the  subject  of  the  most  cordial, 
flattering  congratulations.  At  the  reception,  so  spontane- 
ously and  enthusiastically  improvised  in  his  honor,  hundreds 
of  the  ladies  tendered  him  a  hearty  shake  of  the  hand,  with 
generous  expressions  of  ardent  favor  of  his  address. 

Quitting  the  meeting  in  company  of  General  Gordon  and 
his  friends,  Mr.  Langston  was  making  his  way  to  his  hotel, 
when  to  his  great  surprise  the  general  extended  to  him  an 
invitation  to  breakfast  with  him  the  next  morning.  So  sur- 
prised was  he  at  this  proceeding  that  he  answered  the  gen- 
eral by  saying,  "  You  do  not  mean  what  you  say  !  I  never, 
ate  at  a  second  table  in  my  life,  nor  did  I  ever  eat  at  a  table 
where  discrimination  was  made  against  me  on  account  of 
my  color.  I  could  not  breakfast  with  you  otherwise  than  as 
I  did  so  as  your  friend  and  equal,  and  with  you  and  your 
family,"  to  which  General  Gordon  promptly  and  earnestly 
replied,  saying,  "  That  is  just  exactly  the  invitation  which  I 
give  you  ;  only  for  the  sake  of  convenience  we  will  break- 
fast at  the  hotel,  where  I  can  accommodate  you  and  your 
friends."  Continuing,  he  asked,  "  What  hour  will  meet  your 
pleasure?"  Seven  o'clock  was  agreed,  and.  at  that  very  mo- 
ment General  Gordon  himself  called  for  and  conducted  Mr. 
Langston  to  the  dining-room  and  the  table,  giving  him  the 
seat  of  honor  next  to  and  upon  his  right,  facing  his  excel- 
lent, interesting  and  agreeable  wife.  Such  attention  and 
consideration  had  never  up  to  that  time  been  accorded  a 
person  of  negro  extraction  in  that  place,  and  it  created  great 
comment  while  it  received  the  approval  of  the  community 
generally. 

The  breakfast  completed  at  half-past  eight  o'clock,  Gen- 
eral Gordon  with  a  large  number  of  Virginia  friends  and 
relatives  of  Mr.  Langston,  some  taking  carriages  and  others 
going  on  horseback,  accompanied  him  to  a  plantation  three 
miles  away  belonging  then  to  Mr.  William  Kent,  where  the 
graves  of  his  father  and  mother  were  located.  About  these 
graves  many  pleasant  things  were  said  to  the  son,  of  his 
father  and  his  peculiar  character;  and  of  his  mother,  with 


VISITING   THE   GRAVES    OK    HIS    PARENTS. 


GENERAL  INSPECTOR,  BUREAU  OF  REFUGEES.     273 

her  deep  devotion  to  every  one  of  her  children,  especially 
of  her  interest  in  the  young  baby  boy  who  could  barely  call 
to  mind  her  death-bed  scene  as  he  stood  beside  her  grave 
with  his  soul  quickened  by  feelings  of  love,  veneration  and 
respect  for  those  parents  whose  sleep  had  already  been  so 
long,  secure  and  undisturbed. 

Leaving  this  sacred  spot,  the  place  of  his  birth  and  the 
home  of  his  earliest  childhood,  at  the  suggestion  of  General 
Gordon,  Mr.  Langston  and  his  friends,  on  their  return  to 
the  court  house,  paid  a  hurried  visit  to  Mrs.  Nathaniel 
Mills,  who  surviving  her  venerable  husband  by  several 
years,  was  now  quite  one  hundred  years  old.  Her  faculties 
were  all  intact ;  her  mind  was  clear,  and  she  was  deeply 
affected  by  the  honor  as  she  styled  it,  which  was  paid  her 
in  this  call.  She  said  many  pleasant  things  to  Mr.  Lang- 
ston ;  told  how  deeply  interested  her  husband  had  been  in 
his  education  and  general  welfare ;  and  declared,  were  he 
living,  that  he  would  be  glad  to  join  the  neighbors  and 
friends  of  Captain  Ralph  Quarles  in  welcoming  his  son,  of 
whom  he  could  not  be  under  the  circumstances  otherwise 
than  proud,  back  to  the  neighborhood,  even  if  it  be  for 
only  a  passing  visit.  Perhaps  Virginia  has  not  produced  a 
woman  who  more  entirely  realized  in  her  life  and  influence, 
it  may  be  in  a  limited  way,  upon  the  community  and  its 
interest,  a  higher  ideal  of  womanhood  than  this  good  one 
of  whom  these  words  are  written. 

Returning  to  the  court  house,  where  a  hasty  lunch  was 
taken,  at  twelve-thirty  o'clock,  Mr.  Langston,  after  thank- 
ing his  friends  for  the  kindness  shown  him  and  bidding 
them  farewell,  took  the  train  for  Richmond,  the  capital  of 
the  State,  where  he  spoke  at  three  o'clock  in  the  afternoon. 
He  was  received  at  the  capital  with  every  display  of 
marked  popular  respect,  and  there  assembled  at  the  hour 
appointed  for  his  meeting  on  the  public  grounds  about  the 
statuary,  which  give  grace  and  honor  thereto,  thousands  of 
people,  white  and  black,  to  hear  his  speech.  His  platform 
was  historic  and  unique,  calculated  to  inspire  in  him  lofty 
and  commanding  thoughts ;  for  the  great  and  the  good,  as 


274       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

immortalized  in  marble,  looked  down  upon  him,  and  in 
their  silent  but  expressive  faces  and  mien,  seemed  to  chal- 
lenge while  they  prompted  his  best,  most  patriotic  utter- 
ance. Never  before  had  such  an  audience  convened  on 
those  grounds,  about  those  masterpieces  of  art,  to  hear  such 
an  orator  under  such  circumstances !  In  that  vast  gather- 
ing stood  a  man,  near  the  speaker  as  he  occupied  position 
upon  the  base  of  the  statuary,  of  remarkable  character  and 
name,  a  noted  ex-governor  of  the  Commonwealth.  He 
gave  considerate,  respectful  attention  to  the  address,  and 
when  it  was  finished  he  was  among  the  first  to  congratu- 
late the  speaker  and  thank  him  for  the  moderation,  wisdom 
and  eloquence  which  distinguished  his  effort.  This  man 
was  the  famous  Henry  A.  Wise,  the  governor  of  Virginia 
when  that  State  dealt  with  John  Brown  and  his  compan- 
ions, finally  executing  the  hero  of  the'  Harper's  Ferry  raid. 
This  meeting,  promoted  and  sustained  by  such  persons  as 
General  Brown,  chief  agent  of  the  Bureau  at  the  capital 
of  the  State,  Messrs.  Hunnycut,  Manley,  Taylor,  Brooks 
and  others,  white  and  colored,  prominent  citizens  of  the 
place,  was  pronounced  a  great  success.  Of  Mr.  Langston 
himself  and  his  address,  the  leading  daily  paper  held  the 
following  words : 

"  At  the  square  on  the  east  side  of  the  monument  a  very  large  meeting  was 
convened  yesterday  afternoon,  to  hear  Mr.  John  M.  Langston,  the  colored  law- 
yer from  Ohio.  His  style  was  highly  oratorical,  his  language  choice,  and 
altogether  the  radical  party  have  few  speakers  as  good  as  he.  His  speech  was 
confined  to  an  argumentative  discussion  of  those  subjects  which  pertain  to  the 
freedom  of  the  colored  American  and  his  natural  right  of  citizenship.  From 
his  standpoint,  we  have  never  heard  the  subject  more  intelligently  handled." 

After  extended  inspection  of  freedmen's  affairs,  with 
meetings  and  addresses  as  stated,  Mr.  Langston  return- 
ing to  Washington  city,  after  preparing  and  presenting  his 
reports  to  his  superior  officer,  was  very  soon  thereafter 
ordered  to  a  more  distant  Southern  field  of  labor. 


CHAPTER  XIX. 

HIS   LABORS    IN   THE   SOUTH,    THEIR    INFLUENCE  AND 
EFFECT. 

MR.  LANGSTON,  after  an  extended  and  successful  trip 
through  Mississippi  and  Alabama,  on  his  journey  north- 
ward learned  through  the  newspapers  that  President  John- 
son had  in  contemplation  a  change  in  the  commissioner- 
ship  of  the  Bureau  of  Refugees,  Freedmen  and  Abandoned 
Lands,  and  that  his  own  name  had  been  mentioned  in  con- 
nection with  the  place.  After  his  arrival  at  the  national 
capital,  he  visited  the  Executive  Mansion,  and  there  had  a 
full  and  free  talk  with  the  president  on  the  subject.  Presi- 
dent Johnson  was  outspoken  and  positive  in  his  opposition  to 
General  Howard,  and  did  not  hesitate  to  declare  his  purpose 
to  relieve  him  of  his  position.  His  expressions  with  re- 
gard to  him  and  his  management  of  the  Bureau  were 
extremely  severe,  sometimes  blasphemous.  Throughout 
his  conversation  he  indulged  in  most  harsh  and  offensive 
criticism  of  him,  insisting  that  he  should  be  relieved.  He 
stated  that  he  would  be  exceedingly  glad  if  the  colored 
people  could  agree  upon  some  able  and  efficient  man  of 
their  own  number  for  that  position.  He  declared  his  read- 
iness to  appoint  him,  and  intimated  his  willingness  to  give 
the  place  to  Mr.  Langston.  Finally,  he  went  so  far  as  to 
give  him  time  to  consider  the  matter.  However,  Mr.  Lang- 
ston insisted  that  the  highest  interests  of  the  colored  people 
and  the  efficiency  of  this  service  instituted  in  their  behalf, 

275 


276       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

seemed  to  him  to  require  the  continuance  of  General  How- 
ard at  the  head  of  the  Bureau.  From  his  observation  of  the 
service,  with  close  inspection  of  the  results  already  accom- 
plished, Mr.  Langston  claimed  that  President  Lincoln  had 
made  no  mistake  in  calling  General  Howard  to  the  commis- 
sionership,  for  he  appeared  to  be  in  every  way  sagacious, 
wise  and  efficient.  Besides,  he  had  already  won  the  confi- 
dence of  the  liberal  people  of  the  country,  whose  great  church, 
missionary  and  charitable  organizations  were  supplement- 
ing in  outlays  and  labor  the  enterprises  so  much  needed  to 
further  the  work  of  the  Bureau  among  the  emancipated  and 
impoverished  classes  of  the  South. 

In  this  same  interview  with  the  president,  as  he  discov- 
ered that  Mr.  Langston  did  not  incline  to  accept  the  com- 
missionership  of  the  Bureau,  he  suggested  to  him  that  he 
would  appoint  him,  if  he  preferred,  as  United  States 
Minister  to  Hayti.  But  Mr.  Langston  showed  no  disposi- 
tion whatever  to  accept  this  foreign  place. 

On  leaving  the  president  however,  Mr.  Langston  did 
promise  to  call  upon  him  again  at  an  early  day,  to  give 
him  his  conclusions  fully  and  decidedly  in  regard  to  these 
matters.  Upon  consultation  with  friends  well  advised  and 
in  whom  he  had  special  confidence,  he  took  another  course 
entirely.  He  called  upon  General  Howard,  his  chief,  and 
made  bold  as  he  conceived  it  to  be  his  duty,  to  make 
known  to  him  the  purposes  of  President  Johnson,  as  stated. 
He  advised  General  Howard  also  that  he  had  no  doubt 
that  General  Grant,  who  was  then  acting  as  secretaiy  of 
war  ad  interim,  standing  firmly  for  his  continuance  in  his 
position,  would  succeed  even  as  against  the  president,  in 
keeping  him  there.  He  further  stated  what  he  had  said  to 
the  president  on  the  subject  and  that  he  would  be  glad  to 
say  even  more  in  the  same  direction  to  the  secretary  of  war. 
Accordingly  a  call  was  arranged,  and  Mr.  Langston  accom- 
panied by  Col.  L.  Edwin  Dudley,  a  white  friend  of  his  and  a 
special  admirer  and  friend  of  General  Howard,  and  Mr. 
John  T.  Johnson,  a  prominent  colored  citizen  of  Washing- 
ton city,  a  friend  also  of  General  Howard,  fully  alive  to  his 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  277 

great  services  to  his  race  and  deeply  conscious  of  his 
worth,  visited  General  Grant  for  the  purposes  indicated. 
The  secretary,  after  being  fully  advised  by  Mr.  Langston 
as  to  the  intentions  of  the  president  with  respect  to  a 
change  in  the  commissionership  of  the  Bureau,  and  after 
listening  attentively  to  what  he  had  to  say  in  favor  of  the 
continuance  of  General  Howard  as  commissioner,  in  view  of 
the  work  which  he  had  inaugurated  and  which  he  was  ac- 
complishing with  such  signal  and  important  results,  ex- 
pressed himself  in  bold,  earnest  and  positive  manner 
against  the  change  which  the  president  suggested.  In  the 
course  of  his  reply  he  not  only  spoke  in  comprehensive, 
liberal,  wise  terms  of  the  Bureau,  its  institution  and  work, 
telling  how  he  had  himself  in  his  management  of  the 
colored  people,  flocking  to  his  army  along  the  Mississippi 
River,  been  compelled  to  adopt  the  policy  and  plans  of  its 
construction  and  management,  but  praised  the  action  of 
President  Lincoln  in  the  appointment  of  General  Howard, 
and  dwelt  upon  those  distinctive  and  peculiar  qualities  of 
his  character  which  fitted  him  pre-eminently  for  the  work 
which  he  had  in  hand.  He  declared  that  he  would  sustain 
him  to  the  full  extent  of  his  ability.  However,  he  said  he 
had  no  influence  with  the  president,  and  would  only  be  able 
to  sustain  General  Howard,  as  he  did  so  in  his  official 
capacity.  Besides,  he  added  that  he  did  not  know  that  he 
would  be  kept  in  his  place  for  the  next  twenty-four  hours. 
He  did  not  hesitate  to  speak  in  severe  and  earnest  terms 
against  the  policy  which  seemed  to  be  actuating  the  presi- 
dent generally,  nor  did  he  hesitate  to  express  his  views  in 
emphatic  and  eloquent  manner  with  regard  to  what  the 
negro  had  a  right  to  expect  of  the  government  in  the  way 
of  protection  and  support,  even  to  the  extent  of  the  be- 
stowal of  full  citizenship,  including  the  ballot.  It  was  when 
he  had  completed  these  utterances  that  Mr.  Langston,  in 
the  presence  of  his  friends,  full  of  excitement,  moved  by 
the  sentiments  of  the  great  secretary  and  matchless  gen- 
eral, rushing  to  him  and  thanking  him  for  what  he  had  said, 
declared  that  such  words  and  such  opinions  would  make 


278       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

him  the  next  president  of  the  United  States,  and  that  in 
the  name  of  the  negroes  of  the  country,  their  friends  and 
the  loyal  masses,  he  would  then  and  there  nominate  him. 
His  friends  not  only  bore  intelligent  and  emphatic  testi- 
monies in  favor  of  General  Howard  and  his  retention  as 
chief  of  the  Bureau,  but  being  moved  as  Mr.  Langston  him- 
self was  by  the  words  of  General  Grant,  expressed  their 
enthusiastic  approval  of  his  suggestion  to  make  the  secre- 
tary president  of  the  United  States.  General  Grant  knew 
full  well  that  President  Johnson's  objections  to  General  How- 
ard were  personal,  political  and  partizan,  and  he  met  them 
accordingly  with  severe  biting  criticism.  Perhaps  he  never 
was  so  severe  in  criticism  upon  any  man  as  he  was  at  that 
time  upon  the  president,  in  view  of  his  proposed  action  and 
the  reasons  which  he  understood  actuated  him  thereto. 
He  could  not  have  been  more  earnest  and  eloquent  in  any 
words  of  commendation  of  any  person  than  he  was  in  those 
employed  in  behalf  of  General  Howard  and  his  efficiency  as 
an  officer,  especially  as  the  commissioner  of  the  Bureau.  It 
is  with  the  largest  degree  of  satisfaction  and  pleasure,  that 
it  may  be  recorded  here  that  General  Howard  held  his  posi- 
tion to  the  end  ;  and  while  his  success  in  all  the  labors  con- 
nected with  the  Bureau  depended  mainly  upon  his  own 
personal  ability  and  wisdom,  it  may  not  be  forgotten  that  his 
retention  and  support  were  due  in  large  measure  as  indi- 
cated to  the  action  of  General  Grant,  than  whom  he  never 
had  a  more  intelligent  nor  a  more  loyal  friend,  so  far  as  his 
endeavors  respecting  the  material,  educational,  political, 
moral  and  religious  advancement  of  the  newly  emancipated 
classes  were  concerned. 

For  the  entire  two  years  and  a  half  of  his  service  in  the 
Bureau,  Mr.  Langston  made  repeated  visits  to  the  former 
slaveholding  States,  in  labors  connected  with  the  general 
advancement  of  the  freed  people.  It  is  wholly  impractica- 
ble under  the  circumstances,  to  give  here  anything  like  full 
accounts,  with  even  limited  details,  of  the  tour  made  by  him 
through  each  State  visited.  As  illustrating  the  general  work 
and  the  advantageous  results  connected  therewith,  it  is  not 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  279 

convenient  to  do  more  than  refer  to  special  visits  made  to 
several  different  States,  and  not  more  than  one  of  the  great 
meetings  held  and  addressed  by  him  in  each.  The  States  to 
which  reference  shall  be  made,  since  they  are  by  reason  of 
their  location  and  character  representative,  are  North  Caro- 
lina, South  Carolina,  Louisiana,  Alabama  and  Georgia,  with 
such  general  allusion  to  the  educational  work  in  others  as 
may  seem  to  be  pertinent  and  proper  ;  for  great  schools, 
colleges  and  universities  were  founded  in  several,  with  which 
the  general  inspector  had  certain  relations  and  duties  of 
such  character  and  importance  as  to  make  it  but  just  to 
him  that  special  though  brief  mention  be  made  of  them. 

On  the  twenty-sixth  day  of  October,  1867,  he  made  his  first 
visit  to  Raleigh,  North  Carolina.  He  had  heard  much  of  the 
colored  people  of  the  Old  North  State,  both  free  and  slave  ; 
how  that  the  former  down  to  1835,  had  enjoyed,  measura- 
bly, the  advantages  of  public  schools  and  the  elective  fran- 
chise ;  and  that  the  older  persons  of  that  class  exhibited  in 
conduct  and  life,  mentally  and  morally,  the  good  effects  im- 
plied in  that  social  condition.  He  had  also  heard  that  in 
that  State  special  pains  had  been  taken  by  slaveholders  for 
a  long  time,  with  respect  to  their  slaves,  to  put  many  of 
them  to  trades  ;  and  that  in  that  Commonwealth  more  than 
any  other  of  the  South,  it  would  be  found  that  colored 
persons  were  in  large  numbers  master-workmen  in  the  differ- 
ent mechanical  callings.  In  his  early  life,  he  had  made  the 
acquaintance  of  a  young  black  man  of  North  Carolina,  who, 
having  mastered  in  that  State  all  that  was  merely  mechan- 
ical in  the  trade  of  the  gunsmith,  so  that  he  manipulated 
in  the  most  skillful  manner,  every  material  used  in  his  art, 
even  from  its  crudest  condition  to  its  most  improved  and  pol- 
ished state,  but  had  however,  been  given  no  real  knowledge  of 
the  science  of  his  calling.  His  case  was,  indeed,  characteris- 
tic ;  the  use  of  the  hands  simply  was  improved,  with  adequate 
exercise  of  the  memory  ;  and  there  the  negro  mechanic,  as  the 
young  man  claimed,  was  left  to  struggle  as  best  he  might. 
And  yet,  so  much  of  merely  mechanical  instruction  had  its 
beneficial  results  in  moral  and  material  advantage. 


28o       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Going  into  North  Carolina  with  such  impressions  as  to  the 
more  improved  condition  of  the  colored  people,  and  to  the 
capital  of  the  State  of  which  he  had  heard  also  many  pleasant 
things,  he  expected  to  find  not  only  a  large  colored  popula- 
tion, but  one  of  unusual  improvement,  advanced  in  mate- 
rial circumstances.  He  expected  to  find  schools  and 
churches  among  them,  well-ordered,  of  large  membership 
and  attendance.  He  expected  to  find  among  them  too 
leading  men  of  their  own  color,  prepared  really  to  direct 
and  encourage  them  in  the  cultivation  of  the  useful  things 
of  freedom.  In  all  these  respects  he  found  no  evidences  of 
unworthy  life  and  thriftlessness  calculated  to  disappoint 
him.  Far  otherwise.  For  the  homes  of  the  people  indicated 
on  their  part  the  possession  of  industrial  wisdom  and  pros- 
perity. The  large  attendance  of  orderly,  comparatively 
well-dressed  children  in  the  schools,  indicated  the  popu- 
lar estimate  put  upon  education ;  and  the  several  large 
churches  of  varying  denominational  character  discovered 
the  general  appreciation  of  morality  and  religion  prevailing 
among  the  people.  The  leading  man  at  that  time  found 
among  these  people,  residing  in  Raleigh,  enjoying  the  respect 
and  confidence  of  all  classes,  prominent  in  politics  and  in- 
fluential in  the  work  of  education  and  general  improvement, 
was  the  Hon.  James  H.  Harris.  Active  as  he  was  at  this 
time,  manifesting  constant  interest  in  everything  that  con- 
cerned the  welfare  of  the  people,  it  is  not  surprising  that 
subsequently  he  became  both  a  conspicuous  figure  in  state 
affairs  and  in  Republican  national  conventions,  wielding 
such  influence  as  to  win  national  name.  He  was  repeatedly 
elected  to  the  state  Legislature,  and  was  honored  with  a  seat 
in  the  State  Constitutional  Convention.  After  serving  thus 
his  fellow-citizens  and  enjoying  their  confidence  to  the  very 
iast,  Mr.  Harris  died  only  about  one  year  ago.  This  gen- 
tleman, with  others  of  like  prominence,  white  and  colored, 
including  the  governor  of  the  State,  composed  the  commit- 
tee which  received  and  entertained  Mr.  Langston  on  his  first 
visit  to  Raleigh  ;  and  it  was  he  who  introduced  him  when 
he  made  his  first  speech  there  in  the  African  Methodist  Epis- 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  281 

copal  church  on  "  The  education  and  elevation   of  the  col- 
ored people." 

The  meeting  was  characterized  as  a  very  large  one,  the 
most  attentive  and  orderly  that  ever  assembled  in  the  city. 
Prominent  white  persons,  such  as  Gen.  Nelson  A.  Miles, 
Col.  J.  V.  Bomford  ;  the  superintendent  of  education,  Mr. 
Fiske,  and  the  governor  of  the  State,  Mr.  Holden ;  Hon.  C. 
L.  Harris  and  others  attended.  Mr.  Langston,  accompanied 
from  his  quarters  in  a  carriage  by  Messrs.  James  H.  Harris 
and  John  R.  Caswell,  was  received  by  the  audience  as  he 
entered  the  church  with  enthusiastic  applause.  Mr.  Harris' 
address  of  introduction  was  brief  but  eloquent,  concluding 
with  the  words,  "  I  have  now  the  honor  of  introducing  to 
you  the  orator  of  the  evening,  the  colored  Edward  Everett 
of  America."  "  The  Raleigh  Weekly  Standard,"  the  lead- 
ing newspaper  of  the  State,  in  speaking  of  Mr.  Langston's 
address  in  an  editorial  notice,  employed  the  following 
words : 

"This  distinguished  colored  orator  addressed  a  very  large  audience  in  the 
African  Methodist  Church  in  this  city,  on  Wednesday  night  last,  and  for  more 
than  two  hours  held  them  spellbound  by  his  genius  and  eloquence.  We  give 
to-day  only  a  brief  sketch  of  this  magnificent  speech. 

"  Mr.  Langston  is  now  in  North  Carolina,  as  an  officer  of  the  Freedmen's 
Bureau.  His  address  on  Wednesday  night  was  confined  mainly  to  the  subject 
of  education.  He  occupied  a  wide  field  in  the  course  of  his  address,  and  said 
very  many' things,  which,  if  heeded  and  practiced  by  the  colored  race,  will 
prove  of  the  utmost  advantage  to  them.  The  whole  address  was  lofty  and  gen- 
erous in  its  tone,  and  contained  nothing  objectionable  in  matter  or  manner  to 
the  white  race.  Such  a  man  by  constantly  traversing  the  country  and  address- 
ing the  people  of  both  races,  would  do  an  incalculable  amount  of  good." 

As  early  as  November  5th,  1867,  Mr.  Langston  visited 
Raleigh  for  the  second  time,  and  addressed  in  Tucker's 
Hall  one  of  the  largest  and  most  enthusiastic  mixed  meet- 
ings ever  held  in  the  capital.  Of  his  speech  on  this  occa- 
sion, the  "Weekly  Standard"  made  the  following  com- 
ment : 

"  Mr.  Langston  spoke  for  more  than  an  hour  with  unsurpassed  ability  and 
eloquence,  laying  before  his  audience  the  best  exposition  and  defence  of 
Republican  principles  to  which  we  have  ever  listened.  His  speech  produced  a 
fine  effect,  and  cannot  fail  to  be  productive  of  good  among  our  people  of  all 

classes." 


282       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Here  it  is  proper  to  state,  that  in  his  visits  to  North 
Carolina,  Mr.  Langston  did  not  confine  himself  in  his  labors 
to  the  capital.  He  visited,  inspected  the  school  work  and 
addressed  large  meetings  of  the  people  at  Goldsborough, 
Tarborough,  Wilmington,  Fayetteville,  Greensborough, 
New  Berne,  Elizabeth  City,  Charlotte  and  Salisbury,  and 
wherever  he  went  he  was  heard  patiently  and  attentively 
by  all  classes. 

Going  subsequently  into  South  Carolina,  Mr.  Langston 
visited  Columbia,  the  capital,  and  Charleston,  the  principal 
cities  of  the  State.  In  the  Palmetto  State  he  was  received 
and  treated  with  marked  consideration  and  kindness.  His 
principal  meeting  was  held  at  Charleston  on  the  Battery, 
in  sight  of  Fort  Sumter,  upon  which  the  first  gun  of  the 
Rebellion  was  fired.  No  one  shall  ever  describe  the  beauty 
of  the  city,  the  sea  and  the  sky,  as  they  appeared  on  the 
evening  on  which  the  whole  city  seemed  to  turn  out  to 
hear  the  colored  orator  from  the  North ;  and  no  pen  can 
record  in  sufficiently  just  and  truthful  manner,  the  sober 
and  considerate  behavior  with  which  the  vast  concourse  of 
white  and  colored  people  of  this  Southern  city  heard  him. 
He  discoursed  of  those  means  of  education,  property  and 
character,  with  loyal  devotion  to  the  government,  which  were 
essential  to  the  elevation  of  the  colored  American,  formerly 
enslaved,  and  the  reconciliation  and  happiness  of  the  white 
American,  formerly  the  owner  and  master  of  the  slaves. 
For  two  hours  and  a  half,  in  the  glory  of  a  moonlight  un- 
surpassed in  that  region,  with  the  attention  and  respect  of  an 
audience  only  disturbed  as  it  applauded  the  words  of  the 
speaker,  Mr.  Langston  dwelt  in  effective  manner  upon  the 
themes  indicated.  As  he  closed  his  speech  in  the  predic- 
tion of  a  future  to  South  Carolina  and  the  nation  in  which 
all  shall  forget  past  differences  of  condition  and  nationality 
in  the  consciousness  of  their  unity  and  happiness  in  being 
simply  American  citizens,  the  applause  which  greeted  that 
utterance  was  full,  cheering,  enthusiastic  and  deafening. 

He  left  the  city  of  Charleston  feeling  that  the  work  of  edu- 
cation and  improvement  of  the  black  and  white  races 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  283 

would  go  rapidily  on,  resulting  not  more  in  the  complete 
renovation  and  exaltation  of  the  former  than  the  happiness 
and  prosperity  of  the  latter. 

After  his  return  from  South  Carolina,  and  during  the 
presidential  canvass  of  1868,  Mr.  Langston  received  a  com- 
munication from  the  leading  Republicans  of  the  State  bear- 
ing upon  his  late  visit  and  asking  his  return,  which 
shows  how  profoundly  and  generally  his  labors  had  af- 
fected the  people,  and  how  they  were  appreciated.  This 
communication  is  inserted  here,  in  justice  as  well  to  those 
who  wrote,  signed  and  transmitted  it,  as  to  him  of  whom  it 
speaks  and  whose  efforts  were  sought. 

"  Columbia,  S.  C.,  September  25,  1868. 
"  JOHN  M.  LANGSTON,  ESQ., 
"Dear  Sir: 

"  The  undersigned,  members  of  the  Republican  party,  having  heard 
your  recent  addresses  in  this  State,  and  being  convinced  that  your  services  as  an 
orator  and  public  speaker  would  be  of  the  utmost  advantage  to  the  friends  of 
"justice  and  equal  rights  in  this  State,  respectfully  and  earnestly  urge  and  solicit 
you  to  return  to  our  State  during  the  present  campaign  and  join  in  the  great 
work  of  carrying  South  Carolina  by  a  decisive  majority  for  Grant  and  Colfax. 

"  Without  intending  any  personal  flattery,  we  say  to  you  that  we  believe  your 
superior  education  and  powers  as  a  speaker  will  command  a  hearing  and  con- 
sequent enlightenment  of  mind  on  the  part  of  our  white  fellow-citizens,  which 
they  would  accord  to  no  other  man  within  our  acquaintance. 

"  Pray  endeavor  to  so  arrange  your  duties  as  to  allow  you  to  be  with  us  dur- 
ing the  month  of  October. 
"  We  remain,  dear  sir,  very  respectfully,  your  obedient  servants, 

(Signed.)     ROBERT  C.  DELARGE,  Rep.  from  Charleston. 
J.  A.  SWAILS,  Senator  from  Williamsburg. 
W.  R.  HOYT,  Senator  from  Colleton. 
T.  J.  MOSES,  JR.,  Speaker  of  House  of  Reps. 

C.  H.  PETTI NGILL,  Rep.,  Williamsburg. 
A.  J.  RANSIER,  Rep.  from  Charleston. 
R.  H.  CAIN,  Senator  from  Charleston. 
REUBEN  TOMLINSON,  Rep.  from  Charleston. 
H.  W.  PURVIS,  Rep.  from  Lexington. 
CHARLES  D.  HAYNE,  Rep.  from  Bafnwell. 

D.  E.  CORBIN,  Senator  from  Charleston. 
JONATHAN  J.  WRIGHT,  Senator  from  Beaufort. 
JAMES  M.  AU.F.N,  Senator  from  Greenville. 
W.  E.   ROSK,  Senator  from  York. 

Y.  J.  P.  OWENS,  Senator  from  Laurens. 
J.  K.  JILLSON,  Senator  from  Kershaw. 


284       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

W.  B.  NASH,  Senator. 

L.  WIMBUSH,  Senator,  Chester. 

H.  J.  MAXWELL. 

H.   H.  JENKS. 

JOHN  B.  DENNIS. 

WM.  W.  H.  GRAY,  Rep.  from  Charleston. 

BENJ.  F.  JACKSON,  Rep.  from  Charleston. 

J.  H.  RAINEY,  Senator  from  Georgetown. 

R.  J.  DONALDSON,  Senator,  Chesterfield." 

However  anxious  Mr.  Langston  was  to  comply  with  this 
very  cordial  and  flattering  invitation,  he  was  so  situated  by 
reason  of  prior  engagements,  that  he  was  unable  to  do  so. 
He  therefore  made  this  reply  : 

"  Oberlin,  Ohio,  October  i,  1868. 
"  Dear  Sirs : 

"  Your  welcome  letter  of  September  25,  has  been  received.  I  thank  you 
for  the  kind  invitation  which  it  conveys  to  return  to  your  State  to  aid  you, 
according  to  the  measure  of  my  ability,  in  carrying  the  election  therein  by  a 
majority  as  large  as  possible  for  Grant  and  Colfax,  the  nominees  of  the 
Republican  party,  and  the  representatives  of  Law  and  Order,  Peace  and 
Liberty.  I  am  only  too  sorry  that  prior  engagements,  connected  with  my 
official  duties  and  the  canvass,  render  it  impracticable  for  me  to  accept  your 
invitation. 

"  You  will  permit  me  in  this  connection  to  thank  you  for  the  grateful  words 
in  which  your  approval  of  my  course  when  in  your  State  recently  are 
expressed. 

"  With  sentiments  of  profound  gratitude  and  with  high  consideration  for 
each  one  of  you  personally, 

"  I  have  the  honor  to  be,  yours  very  respectfully, 

"JOHN  MERCER  LANGSTON." 

Mr.  Langston  made  his  first  visit  to  Louisiana,  reaching 
New  Orleans,  December  31,  1867.  His  arrival  in  that  city 
and  State  was  heralded  by  the  "  New  Orleans  Republican," 
in  an  editorial  which  reads  as  follows : 

"  It  is  with  no  common  pleasure  we  announce  the  arrival  in  our  city  of  the 
Honorable  J.  M.  Langston,  of  Ohio,  one  of  the  ablest  lawyers  and  most  elo- 
quent orators  the  colored  race  in  this  country  has  produced.  Mr.  Langston, 
we  understand,  visits  the  South  in  the  capacity  of  general  inspector  of  schools 
for  colored  children,  under  instructions  from  Major-General  Howard,  com- 
missioner of  the  Freedmen's  Bureau,  and  not  as  many  may  suppose,  purely  in 
tke  interest  of  any  political  party,  although  to  say  that  he  is  no  partizan  would 
be  doing  him  an  injustice.  All  the  readers  of  the  Republican  will  remember 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  285 

the  eloquent  speeches  delivered  by  him  in  Mississippi  and  published  in  our 
columns  last  summer.  It  is  but  truth  to  say  that  no  speeches  comparable 
with  them  have  been  in  our  columns  since.  We  know  of  but  two  or  three  men 
iu  our  national  legislature  who  can  approach  him  in  natural  gifts  of  speech  and 
cultivated  graces  of  oratory.  He  is  an  able,  honest  and  loyal  man,  loyal  to  his 
country,  loyal  to  his  race,  and  not  ashamed  to  stand  up  before  the  whole  world 
and  in  himself  prove  that  while  a  negro's  blood  is  in  his  veins,  a  more  than 
white  man's  eloquence  is  on  his  tongne,  a  more  than  white  man's  loyalty  is  in 
his  heart. 

"  On  New  Year's  day  Mr.  Langston's  voice  will  be  heard  in  Mechanic's  hall. 
Let  the  loyal  people  of  New  Orleans  crowd  it  to  its  utmost  capacity.  No 
worthier  man  has  stood  upon  its  platform,  no  abler  man  has  reasoned  with  the 
people  who  are  there  wont  to  assemble.  Go  early,  and  you  will  need  no 
further  inducement  to  remain  late." 

Mr.  Langston  remained  in  the  city  in  connection  with 
his  labors  there  for  some  two  or  more  weeks,  during  that 
time  visiting  several  places  in  the  State,  especially  the 
capital,  Baton  Rouge.  Besides  visiting  every  colored 
school,  inspecting  and  addressing  them  all,  he  made  seven 
stated  speeches  in  different  sections  of  the  city,  beginning 
with  the  one  delivered  in  the  hall  of  Mechanic's  Institute,  and 
closing  with  the  one  delivered  at  the  St.  James  African 
Methodist  Episcopal  church.  At  this  time,  the  Constitu- 
tional Convention  of  the  State  of  Louisiana  was  in  session  in 
its  chief  city,  and  the  leading  men  of  the  State  of  both  classes 
and  all  parties  were  in  New  Orleans,  each  full  of  enthusiasm 
and  purpose  with  regard  to  what  he  conceived  to  be  the 
organic  law  needed  for  the  State.  A  large  number  of  the 
members  of  the  convention  and  those  in  attendance  upon 
it,  honored  Mr.  Langston  by  attending  his  meetings. 
Among  the  gentlemen  who  gave  special  attention  to  him, 
doing  all  in  their  power  to  make  his  visit  and  labors  pleasant 
and  profitable,  were,  of  the  colored  class,  Captains  P.  B.  S. 
Pinchback  and  James  H.  Ingraham,  Dr.  Roudenez  and 
Major  Dumas,  Hons.  Oscar  J.  Dunn  and  George  Y.  Kelso  ; 
and  of  the  white  class,  leaders  of  the  Republican  party, 
Messrs.  H.  C.  Warmoth  and  M.  A.  Southworth,  Thomas  J. 
Durant  and  J.  H.  Sypher,  J.  S.  Harris  and  W.  L.  McMillen. 
Nearly  all  of  these  gentlemen  were  members  of  the  com- 
mittee which  received  and  entertained  Mr.  Langston,  dis- 
19 


286       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

playing  in  that  regard  the  most  generous  hospitality,  with 
exalted  personal  consideration.  The  manner  in  which  he 
was  treated  is  fully  evidenced  in  the  fact  that  through  the 
kindness  of  this  committee,  his  trip  to  Baton  Rouge  was 
made  upon  the  beautiful  steamer,  the  "  Wild  Wagoner,  "  as 
put  at  his  disposal  for  the  trip  by  its  owner,  General  Mans- 
field, with  such  outfit  for  his  accommodation  in  every  way 
as  could  be  called  only  princely. 

At  the  meeting  held  at  Mechanic's  Institute,  Capt.  P.  B. 
S.  Pinchback  was  made  president,  assisted  by  a  large  num- 
ber of  vice-presidents.  The  audience  was  an  immense  one, 
bright  and  brilliant  by  reason  of  the  presence  of  so  large 
number  of  beautifully  dressed  ladies,  and  distinguished  by 
the  attendance  of  many  persons  of  note  and  character. 
Perhaps  no  meeting  held  in  any  one  of  the  great  cities  of 
the  Union  among  the  colored  citizens,  was  ever  honored  by 
the  presence  of  so  many  men  of  their  own  class  noted  for 
their  wealth,  intelligence  and  social  position.  This  will  not 
be  doubted  when  one  calls  to  mind  the  names  of  those  who 
composed  the  committee  of  reception  just  now  given.  The 
speech  of  the  occasion  was  given  respectful,  attentive  audi- 
ence for  the  full  two  hours  occupied  in  its  delivery,  and 
the  applause  which  accompanied  its  utterance,  as  well  as 
the  congratulations  which  were  given  the  speaker  at  its 
close,  testified  of  the  good  impression  which  had  been 
made  and  the  favor  which  he  had  won. 

In  its  issue  of  January  2nd,  1868,  the  "  New  Orleans  Re- 
publican," among  other  things  contained  the  following 
complimentary  notice  : 


"  The  hall  of  Mechanic's  Institute  was  crowded  almost  to  suffocation  last 
night  to  hear  the  eloquent  orator  from  Ohio,  Mr.  John  M.  Langston.  He  dis- 
appointed no  one.  All  who  went  expecting  to  hear  an  able  man  heard  one. 
His  speech  would  have  filled  the  gallery  of  the  House  of  Representatives  or  the 
Senate  chamber  in  Washington  had  it  been  delivered  in  either  of  them,  and 
would  have  both  gratified  and  enlightened  learned  senators  and  members  of 
Congress  and  the  people  generally. 

"  His  speech  last  night  satisfied  us  who  for  the  first  time  heard  him,  that  he 
is  destined  to  wield  an  immense  influence  with  the  colored  people  of  this  country, 
and  that  influence,  we  rejoice  to  say,  in  every  sense  of  the  word,  will  be  that  of 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  287 

a  wise,  sagacious,  Christian  statesman.  We  use  the  words  Christian  states- 
man, knowing  that  they  mean  much  and  should  never  be  thoughtlessly 
applied.  Mr.  Langston  is  the  first  man  we  have  heard  in  a  long  while  to  whom 
we  have  thought  we  could  honestly  apply  them.  In  his  speech  last  evening  he 
confined  himself  to  an  elaborate  argument  to  prove  that  the  negro  had  always 
been  a  citizen  of  the  United  States,  had  fought  in  every  war  in  its  history  in 
defense  of  the  nation,  had  voted  in  almost  every  State  and  had  never  once 
raised  the  standard  of  rebellion.  He  maintained  that  the  Constitution  recog- 
nized no  distinctions  of  race  or  color ;  that  the  word  white  was  not  to  be  found 
in  any  important  public  document  until  the  cupidity  of  white  men  placed  it 
there,  and  that  the  prosecution  of  the  war  against  the  rebellion  which  resulted 
in  the  emancipation  of  every  slave  in  the  land  and  the  Reconstruction  Acts  of 
Congress  were  all  done  and  passed  in  and  not  out  of  constitutional  limits. 

"  This  argument  was  the  burden  of  the  speech,  and  although  logical  through- 
out, it  was  interspersed  with  wit  and  eloquence  and  sarcasm  which  swayed  the 
audience  as  if  by  the  wand  of  an  enchanter.  Men  applauded  in  spite  of  them- 
selves ;  laughed  in  spite  of  themselves  ;  frowned  in  spite  of  themselves.  We 
were  entirely  satisfied  with  Mr.  Langston  and  sincerely  hope  he  can  be  prevailed 
upon  to  remain  with  us  during  the  approaching  campaign.  We  want  his  voice 
heard  in  every  parish  in  the  State  and  we  want  every  white  and  black  man  in 
every  parish  to  hear  it.  With  him  in  the  field  we  shall  dismiss  all  fears  about 
the  ratification  of  any  constitution  our  convention  may  pass." 

The  following  letter  addressed  to  Mr.  Langston  on  the 
twentieth  day  of  January,  1868,  indicates  in  emphatic  manner 
the  estimate  put  upon  his  services  by  the  thoughtful,  pat- 
riotic leading  men  of  Louisiana: 

"New  Orleans,  La.,  January  2Oth,  1868. 
"  MR.  J.  M.  LANGSTON, 
"Dear  sir: 

"We  cannot  allow  you  to  leave  New  Orleans  without  expressing  our 
gratitude  for  the  services  you  have  rendered  the  Republican  cause  during  your 
brief  visit.  Your  speeches  have  had  the  effect  to  destroy  prejudice  and  build 
up  a  good  feeling  between  the  two  races.  Cur  greatest  regret  is  that  you  have 
to  leave  us  so  soon.  The  zeal  you  have  manifested  in  the  cause  of  our  State 
induces  us  to  intrude  a  few  requests. 

"  You  have  seen  enough  here  to  show  you  that  our  canvass  must  be  conducted 
almost  entirely  by  speakers.  Public  documents  and  printed  speeches  are  much 
needed  to  aid  us  with  those  whose  education  is  such  that  they  can  read ;  but 
the  great  masses  of  our  people  are  illiterate  and  can  only  be  instructed  by 
speakers  and  canvassers.  We  therefore  hope  you  will  call  upon  the  Executive 
Committee  at  Washington  and  impress  this  upon  its  members. 

"  We  need  about  six  good  speakers,  two  or  three  of  whom  should  be  colored 
men,  and  money  enough  to  send  them  with  about  twenty  others  into  the 
country  parishes.  We  have  but  few  railroads  and  off  the  river  communica- 
tion our  expenses  will  be  very  large.  We  will  be  able  to  raise  among  us  here 


288       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

from  eight  to  ten  thousand  dollars.  We  need  aid  of  our  friends  in  the  North 
to  the  amount  of  ten  thousand  dollars  more.  With  this  we  feel  sure  we  can 
reach  every  voter  in  the  State  and  carry  the  Constitution. 

"  We  wish  to  invite  your  aid  in  this  matter  and  feel  sure  that  you  will  meet 
with  success. 

"  May  we  hope  to  have  you  return  and  aid  us  in  the  campaign.  If  so,  we  will 
be  profoundly  grateful. 

"  Very  truly  your  friends, 
(Signed.)      W.  L.  McMn.LEN,          H.  C.  WARMOTH, 

GEORGE  Y.  KELSO,         JAMES  H.  LANDERS, 
JAMES  H.  INGREHAM,    GEORGE  W.  BEARING,  JR., 
J.  S.  HARRIS,  SIMON  JONES, 

M.    A.    SOUTHWORTH,       HUGH   J.   CAMPBELL, 

T.  A.  RAYNALS,  J.  H.  SYPHER. 

However  willing  to  serve  his  friends  of  Louisiana  and  do 
what  he  might  to  promote  and.  sustain  Republican  princi- 
ples and  measures  in  that  State,  as  manifested  in  the  elec- 
tion of  candidates  of  the  Republican  party  and  the  ratifica- 
tion of  the  State  Constitution,  Mr.  Langston  was  not  able 
to  return  thereto,  as  requested  and  urged  in  the  above  letter. 
He  had  to  content  himself  with  advising  the  National  Exec- 
utive Committee  as  to  the  necessities  of  the  Republicans 
of  the  State,  and  pressing  the  importance  of  generous  ac- 
tion in  such  regard. 

Justice  requires  that  emphatic  mention  be  made  in  this 
connection  of  five  colored  men,  leaders  of  their  race  and 
prominent  and  conspicuous  members  of  the  Republican 
party,  residents  of  Louisiana,  upon  whose  influence  and 
assistance  Mr.  Langston  relied  largely  when  visiting  that 
State.  Messrs.  P.  B.  S.  Pinchback,  Oscar  J.  Dunn,  George 
Y.  Kelso,  Dr.  Roudanez  and  Major  Dumas,  were  all  persons 
actively  engaged  in  reconstructing  their  state  government 
and  in  the  inauguration  and  promotion  of  such  good  social 
enterprise  as  tended  to  the  improvement  of  their  race  in 
every  substantial  way.  The  name  of  each  is  recorded  here 
with  feelings  of  gratitude  as  well  as  admiration.  The  rec- 
ord which  each  has  made  in  his  own  way,  upon  his  own 
intelligence  and  efforts,  proves  how  wisely  and  correctly  any 
discreet  observer  discovered  at  once  in  their  conduct  the 
brilliant  future  which  lay  before  him. 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  289 

It  was  while  Mr.  Langston  was  in  Louisiana  at  this  time 
that  General  Warmoth  and  Oscar  J.  Dunn  were  put  in 
nomination  for  the  governorship  and  lieutenant-governor- 
ship of  the  State  by  the  Republican  party.  It  was  largely 
through  his  influence  that  the  Constitutional  Convention, 
then  in  session,  was  brought  to  change  a  provision  of  the 
document,  upon  which  it  had  already  acted,  reducing  the  age 
of  the  governor  from  thirty  years  to  twenty-five,  so  as  to 
make  General  Warmorth  eligible.  It  was  through  his  influ- 
ence largely,  also,  that  Mr.  Dunn  finally  accepted  the  nom- 
ination to  the  lieutenant-governorship.  At  first,  such  was 
the  feeling  among  certain  of  his  most  reliable  friends  with 
regard  to  the  nomination,  that  fears  were  entertained  by 
them  as  to  the  final  results.  Besides,  several  of  such  friends, 
knowing  his  great  influence  and  the  preponderating  effect 
which  it  would  likely  produce  in  favor  of  the  ticket  nomi- 
nated, and  who  favored  a  colored  person  at  its  head,  exerted 
themselves  to  the  extent  of  their  power  to  prevent  his  ac- 
ceptance. These  considerations  at  first  seemed  to  have 
great  weight  with  Mr.  Dunn.  More  than  this,  without  po- 
litical and  official  experience  of  any  sort,  he  felt  misgivings 
as  to  his  ability  to  discharge  in  acceptable  manner  the  duties 
which  might  be  enjoined  upon  him.  The  prospect  was  that 
they  might  be  numerous,  difficult  and  responsible.  It  was 
not  until  Mr.  Langston  had  spent  four  full  hours  in  serious 
earnest  appeal  to  Mr.  Dunn,  as  they  walked  up  and  down 
Canal  Street  upon  the  night  of  his  nomination,  and  at  last 
when  they  were  about  separating  at  four  o'clock  in  the 
morning  at  his  house,  in  the  presence  of  his  wife,  Mr. 
Langston  made  a  moving,  persistent,  final  entreaty  to  him, 
in  the  name  of  his  race,  to  accept  the  high  honor  and  re- 
sponsibility tendered  him  ;  and  not  then,  until  Mrs.  Dunn, 
inclining  to  the  views  presented  by  Mr.  Langston,  said, 
"  My  husband,  you  must  do  your  duty,"  that  he  gave  the 
least  evidence  of  his  purpose  to  yield  his  judgment  and 
accept  the  nomination. 

Subsequently,  after  General  Warmoth  had  been  elected 
governor  and  Mr.  Dunn  lieutenant-governor,  the  latter 


290       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

finding  himself  at  home  in  his  new  position,  honored  by  his 
fellow-citizens  as  few  men  had  ever  been  on  a  memorial 
occasion  of  mutual  interest  and  pleasure,  he  thanked  Mr. 
Langston  for  the  manner  in  which  he  had  insisted  upon  his 
acceptance  of  the  nomination  of  his  party  to  the  high  office 
which  he  held.  It  is  a  fact,  too,  that  Mrs.  Dunn  never  met 
Mr.  Langston,  at  home  or  abroad,  that  she  did  not  in  cordial 
terms  thank  him  for  his  conduct  and  treatment  of  her  hus- 
band, as  described.  And  it  is  matter  of  congratulation 
that  Oscar  J.  Dunn,  the  first  lieutenant-governor  of  the  col- 
ored race  duly  elected  by  the  voters  of  any  State  of  the  Union, 
proved  to  be  in  all  his  conduct  an  official  without  spot 
upon  his  good  name,  of  large  and  commanding  influence, 
honored  and  respected  by  his  fellow-citizens  of  every  class 
and  political  faith. 

It  is  perhaps  true  that  in  no  part  of  the  South  was  Mr. 
Langston  received  with  greater  consideration  and  heard  by 
larger  audiences  than  in  Alabama  on  the  various  visits 
which  he  made  to  that  State.  He  visited  Montgomery,  and 
spoke  there  at  the  capitol  on  the  third  day  of  Feburary, 
1868.  Misaddress  delivered  at  that  time  before  an  immense 
concourse  of  people,  was  published  in  the  papers  of  the 
State,  although  it  was  extremely  lengthy,  covering  ten 
columns  in  the  "  Daily  State  Sentinel."  Comments  upon 
it  were  favorable,  generally,  and  in  some  instances  flatter- 
ing. The  editorial  notice  of  the  "  Sentinel "  read  as 
follows  : 

"  We  have  great  pleasure  in  laying  before  our  readers  to-day  a  report  of  the 
masterly  speech  of  the  Hon.  John  M.  Langston  of  Ohio,  delivered  on  Thursday 
last  to  the  public  meeting  held  at  the  capitol.  No  report  could  do  justice  to 
the  orator,  and  we  have  been  reluctantly  compelled,  for  want  of  space,  to  omit 
the  many  racy  illustrations  which  made  the  performance  sparkle.  Those  who 
had  the  privilege  of  listening  to  his  address  will  long  remember  it,  and  we  are 
assured  that  our  readers  will  enjoy  the  perusal  even  of  the  meager  report  in 
our  columns." 

It  was  at  the  close  of  this  speech  that  the  governor  of  the 
State  (Parsons),  who  had  given  respectful,  considerate  atten- 
tion to  it  throughout,  taking  from  his  own  shoulders  in  the 
presence  of  the  retiring  masses  of  the  people  his  cloak, 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  291 

threw  it  about  Mr.  Langston  as  he  hurried  him  from  the 
steps  of  the  building  from  which  he  had  spoken,  by  his  own 
kindly  assistance  into  the  executive  office,  where  he  found 
fire,  with  warmth  and  protection  against  cold.  Such  con- 
siderate treatment  under  the  circumstances,  made  deep 
impression  upon  the  heart  of  its  recipient,  and  even  to  this 
day  it  is  recalled  with  feelings  of  profound  gratitude. 

It  was  at  Montgomery  during  one  of  his  visits  that  Mr. 
Langston  witnessed  the  first  general  election  of  a  Southern 
State  in  which  the  newly  emancipated  class  was  permitted 
to  take  part.  At  this  time  he  had  been  in  the  city  several 
days,  prosecuting  his  work  as  general  inspector,  visiting  and 
examining  the  schools  of  the  freed  people  and  directing  as 
to  their  general  interests  during  the  day,  and  at  night  attend- 
ing Republican  league  clubs,  holding  meetings  and  arrang- 
ing for  the  forthcoming  election,  being  thus  detained  and 
occupied  in  useful  service.  Such  devotion  to  principle  and 
party  as  was  shown  by  the  new  voters  can  never  be  effaced 
from  his  memory.  Their  patience,  their  endurance  of  in- 
sult, threats,  and  in  some  cases  even  violence,  were  marvel- 
ous ;  while  it  did  really  appear  from  the  extended,  crowded 
lines  of  persons  pressing  forward  to  vote,  that  not  a  single 
colored  man  had  been  left  at  home.  Everyone  as  a  rule 
voted  the  Republican  ticket,  even  those  who  knew  full  well 
that  to  cast  such  a  vote  was  certain  sure  dismissal  from  the 
service  of  those  in  whose  employment  they  gained  their 
daily  support  for  all  dependent  upon  their  labors. 

Besides  visiting  places  of  less  importance  while  in  Ala- 
bama, Mr.  Langston  gave  special  attention  to  the  condition 
of  the  freed  people  in  the  greater  cities  of  Montgomery, 
Selma,  Demopolis  and  Mobile.  And  wherever  he  went  he 
found  them  industrious,  diligent,  and  often  thrifty ;  all  of 
whatsoever  condition  exhibiting  especial  interest  in  educa- 
tion. 

About  the  middle  of  February,  1868,  Mr.  Langston  made 
his  first  visit  to  the  State  of  Georgia.  He  went  directly  to 
Atlanta,  where  he  made  his  home  with  the  teachers 
engaged  at  the  time  in  the  conduct  and  management  of  the 


292       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

colored  schools  of  that  city.  He  was  received  by  them  in 
cordial  hospitable  manner,  and  through  the  good  offices  of 
Mr.  Ware,  who  was  at  once  the  principal  of  the  schools 
and  a  subordinate  agent  of  the  Freedmen's  Bureau,  he  was 
enabled  to  make  a  general  and  thorough  inspection  of  the 
educational  work  among  the  freed  people  throughout  the 
State ;  visiting  such  places  as  Savannah,  Macon,  Griffin, 
Columbus,  Brunswick,  Augusta,  Americus,  Albany  and 
Andersonville.  At  each  of  these  places,  he  not  only  did 
the  special  school  work  with  which  he  was  charged,  but 
addressed  on  their  educational  and  material  improvement, 
large  popular  audiences.  It  was  at  Albany,  when  speaking 
in  the  evening  in  the  Baptist  church  of  the  place,  and 
while  urging  the  young  colored  men  who  composed  in 
part  his  audience,  to  educate  themselves  as  thoroughly  as 
might  be  and  as  speedily,  in  view  of  the  special  responsi- 
bilities which  awaited  them  in  the  early  future,  that  he 
predicted  that  some  of  them  might  be  called  to  high 
national  official  place  ;  whereupon,  an  aged  Southern  man, 
seated  upon  the  platform  and  near  the  speaker,  having  his 
prejudices  deeply  aroused,  cried  out  at  the  top  of  his  voice, 
"Never!  Never,  in  the  United  States  of  America!"  It 
was  not  long,  however,  before  Mr.  Langston's  prediction 
was  verified  in  the  nomination  and  election  of  Mr.  Jeffer- 
son Long  to  Congress  from  the  Macon  district  of  the 
State. 

Among  the  most  interesting  and  largely  attended  of  all 
these  meetings,  was  that  held  Sunday  afternoon  at  Ander- 
sonville, near  the  old  Rebel  prison,  where  at  that  time  the 
work  of  educating  the  freed  children  was  conducted  by  two 
most  efficient  white  lady  teachers,  one  from  Ohio  and  the 
other  from  California.  All  classes  of  the  people  turned  out 
to  hear  the  address  on  this  occasion,  and  everyone  gave 
attentive,  serious,  respectful  audience.  In  fact,  wherever 
he  went  in  the  State,  he  found  the  people  of  both  classes 
ready  to  receive  him  with  marked  consideration,  and  hence 
his  tour  of  the  State  was  not  only  interesting  but  remark- 
ably pleasant. 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  293 

At  Atlanta,  Mr.  Langston  found  on  his  arrival  the 
State  Constitutional  Convention  in  session.  The  city  was 
overflowing  with  distinguished  orators,  politicians  and 
statesmen  of  the  Commonwealth.  He  was  himself  specially 
honored  by  an  invitation  of  thirty  members  of  the  conven- 
tion to  speak  in  their  hall  at  such  time  as  might  suit  his 
convenience.  The  correspondence  between  these  gentle- 
men, members  of  the  convention  and  Mr.  Langston,  was  as 
follows : 

"  Hall  Georgia  Constitutional  Convention. 
"Atlanta,  Ga.,  Feb.  nth,  1868. 
"JOHN  M.  LANGSTON,  ESQ., 
"  Dear  sir : 

"  The  undersigned  members  of  the  Georgia  Constitutional  Conven- 
tion will  be  pleased  to  have  you  speak  in  their  hall  at  such  time  as  you  may 
find  it  convenient  to  do  so. 

(Signed.)         JAS.  G.  MAUL,  O.  H.  WALTON, 

A.  A.  BRADLEY,  G.  W.  ASHBURN, 
D.  G.  COTLING,  T.  G.  CAMPBELL, 
S.  W.  BEAIRD,  J.  H.  CALDWELL, 
W.  H.-ROZAR,  G.  W.  CHATTERS, 

L.  G.  W.  MINOR,      R.  ALEXANDER, 
P.  B.  BEDFORD,        J.  E.  BRYANT, 
JOHN  MURPHY,         B.  CONLEY, 
ALFRED  BOWDOIN,   W.  L.  CLIFT, 
FLOYD  WOOTEN,       ISAAC  SEELEY, 
GEORGE  HARLAN,     W.  N.  NOBLE, 
WM.  C.  CARSON,      J.  A.  JACKSON, 
JOHN  T.  COSTIN,     JAMES  STEWART, 
J.  C.  CASEY,  C.  H.  PRINCE, 

H.  M.  TURNER,        J.  M.  RICE." 

Mr.  Langston  replied  : 

"Atlanta,  Ga.,  Feb.  nth,  1868. 

"MESSRS.  J.  E.  BRYANT,  H.  M.  TURNER,    B.  CONLEY,    J.  H.  CALDWELL, 
and  others,  members  of  the  Constitutional  Convention  of  Georgia: 
"  Gentlemen : 

"  Your  letter  of  this  date,  in  which  you  invite  me  to  speak  in  the  hall 
of  your  convention,  is  before  me.  I  thank  you  for  this  kind  invitation,  and 
the  expression  of  confidence  which  it  indicates. 

"  It  will  meet  my  convenience  to  speak  to-morrow  night.     The  subject  of  my 
remarks  will  be .     The  status  of  the  Colored  American. 
"  With  sentiments  of  high  consideration,  I  have  the  honor  to  be, 
"  Your  most  obedient  servant, 

"  JOHN  MERCER  LANGSTON." 


294       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

A  very  large  and  beautiful  audience  assembled  to  hear 
the  address  delivered  on  this  occasion,  and  the  "  Atlanta 
Daily  New  Era,"  of  the  thirteenth  of  February,  expressed 
its  estimate  of  the  speaker  and  his  effort  in  the  following 
language : 

"  A  large  and  attentive  audience  of  both  races  assembled  at  the  hall  of  the 
convention  last  evening  to  listen  to  the  address  of  Mr.  Langston,  the  cele- 
brated colored  orator  from  Ohio.  The  theme  was  the  right  of  the  colored  race 
to  American  citizenship,  and  it  was  discussed  in  a  manner  that  fully  estab- 
lished the  reputation  the  orator  has  gained  throughout  the  country." 

The  extent  and  importance  of  Mr.  Langston's  labors  in 
connection  with  the  schools,  the  educational  and  general 
advancement  of  the  emancipated  classes  of  the  country, 
deserve  here  special  emphasis.  He  labored  assiduously  and 
wisely  in  every  State  and  city  which  he  visited  to  those 
ends,  always  doing  his  utmost  to  inspire  both  parents  and 
children  with  the  necessity,  would  they  achieve  proper 
standing  in  the  community  and  win  success  and  happiness 
in  life,  to  do  all  in  their  power  to  cultivate  those  sacred, 
valuable  advantages  of  education  and  improvement,  with- 
out which  no  race  could  be  elevated.  He  reached  and 
impressed  thus  thousands  of  children  found  in  the  schools, 
while  through  his  influence  hundreds  of  the  most  interest- 
ing, intelligent,  worthy  young  boys  and  girls  of  the  race 
were  stimulated  to  earnest  and  persistent  efforts  for  their 
advancement.  Thousands  of  parents  who  otherwise  would 
have  hesitated  and  faltered  in  their  duty,  were  stirred  and 
encouraged  by  the  words  and  counsels  impressed  by  Mr. 
Langston  in  his  addresses.  Wherever  he  addressed  the 
freed  people,  he  was  fortunate  in  the  attention  given  him 
and  the  goodly  impressions  which  he  was  able  to  make 
upon  the  minds  of  his  hearers.  Besides,  he  was  often  able 
to  so  advise  principals  and  teachers  of  the  schools  as  to  add 
greatly  to  their  efficiency  and  success  in  their  work. 

Of  the  great  number  of  state  educational  conventions, 
the  large  gatherings  convening  in  connection  with  the  laying 
of  cornerstones  of  universities,  colleges  and  schools,  as  at 


LABORS  IN  THE  SOUTH.  295 

Atlanta,  Nashville  and  other  places,  and  meetings  held 
upon  commencement  occasions,  where  the  services  of  Mr. 
Langston  were  asked  and  had,  mention  only  may  be  made, 
without  details  which  would  prove  without  doubt  interest- 
ing and  pleasing.  Reports,  however,  of  all  labors  made  in 
such  behalf  through  the  Bureau  and  its  officers,  attest  the 
value  as  well  as  the  earnestness  and  efficiency  of  their  per- 
formance. 

Among  the  most  agreeable  things  connected  with  his 
tours,  his  labors  and  his  experiences  under  the  Freedmen's 
Bureau  in  the  South,  was  the  cordial  welcome  which  he 
received  everywhere  from  the  devoted,  laborious,  self- 
sacrificing  workers,  mostly  white  persons,  who  having  left 
pleasant  Northern  homes  and  families,  had  gone  among  the 
emancipated  classes,  where  they  gave  their  services  gener- 
ally upon  the  most  limited  remuneration,  sometimes  with- 
out pay,  to  the  education  and  elevation  of  the  ex-slaves. 
But  the  consideration  above  all  others  which  renders  him 
satisfaction  in  largest  measure  in  connection  with  his 
labors  is  found  in  the  fact  that  so  many  of  the  young  boys 
and  young  girls  whom  he  found  in  the  schools  of  the  freed 
people  of  the  Southern  States,  have  since  by  diligence, 
perseverance,  industry  and  good  conduct,  won  for  themselves 
respectability,  influence,  usefulness,  and  name  in  the  com- 
munity. One  of  this  class  of  representative  young  colored 
men,  having  reached  exalted  useful  position  and  won 
national  name  for  himself  as  an  educator  and  orator,  has 
recently  died  and  been  buried,  amid  universal  regret  and 
sorrow,  in  the  soil  of  his  own  native  State  of  North  Caro- 
lina. Dr.  John  C.  Price,  the  president  of  Livingstone  Col- 
lege, so  active,  energetic  and  useful  in  life,  shall  not  be 
forgotten  nor  lose  his  influence  in  death  ! 


CHAPTER  XX. 

HE  FOUNDS  AND  ORGANIZES  TH-E  LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF 
HOWARD  UNIVERSITY  AND  IS  MADE  ITS  VICE  AND  ACT- 
ING PRESIDENT. 

As  an  educational  instrumentality,  crowning  the  work 
which  had  been  done  in  that  behalf  in  the  interest  of  the 
freed  people  by  the  government  through  the  Freedmen's 
Bureau,  with  Gen.  O.  O.  Howard  as  its  commissioner,  How- 
ard University  had  been  founded  and  located  at  Washing- 
ton city,  the  capital  of  the  nation.  Very  properly  it  bore 
the  name  of  the  man  who  projected  it  and  mainly  contrib- 
uted to  the  possibility  and  fact  of  its  erection.  If  he  could 
be  personally  honored  in  having  his  name  used  thus  and 
the  memory  of  his  efforts  in  behalf  of  the  freed  people  per- 
petuated, it  was  all  well,  for  his  conduct  and  success  in 
this  respect  merited  signal,  conspicuous  commemoration. 

It  was  well,  too,  that  a  great  liberal  university,  proposing 
to  embrace  and  offer  in  its  comprehensive  curriculum  all 
those  subjects  of  education  necessary  to  a  complete  and  fin- 
ished classical  and  professional  training,  should  have  estab- 
lished in  connection  with  it  and  under  its  control  a  law 
department  whose  course  of  study  should  offer  every  op- 
portunity and  means  according  to  the  best  and  most  varied 
standard  for  legal  preparatory  accomplishment.  That  ne- 
cessity was  met  in  the  establishment  of  the  law  department 
of  Howard  University  in  1868.  After  this  decision,  the 
question  naturally  arose  as  to  who  should  be  called  to  the 
296 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    297 

high  dignity  and  responsibility  of  organizing  this  depart- 
ment— the  first  law  school  known  in  the  world  for  the  spe- 
cial  education  of  colored  youth,  male  and  female.  And  yet 
this  school  was  to  be  so  conducted  that  there  should  be  no 
exclusion  of  any  person  seeking  its  advantages.  Indeed,  it 
was  the  hope  of  all  concerned  that  its  wise,  efficient  man- 
agement would  offer  inducements  calculated  to  bring  at 
least  a  respectable  number  of  white  students  to  its  member- 
ship and  instruction. 

It  is  apparent  upon  the  least  reflection  that  the  person 
called  to  manage  the  enterprise  ought  to  bring  to  his  work 
large  and  various  general  scholarship ;  ought  to  be  master 
of  extended,  minute  and  accurate  knowledge  of  the  law, 
with  easy  and  effective  methods  of  imparting  instruction  in 
it ;  with  such  business  experience  and  habits  as  would  make 
him  successful,  while  moderate  and  sagacious  in  the  man- 
agement of  the  undertaking.  The  whole  country  was 
open  to  the  Board  of  Trustees.  They  might  make  any  se- 
lection they  saw  fit.  They  were  not  limited  even  by  the 
want  of  means,  and  they  might  have  with  great  propriety 
under  the  circumstances,  since  they  were  not  circumscribed 
by  any  considerations  of  complexion  or  nationality,  honored 
in  their  choice  some  distinguished  white  lawyer.  At  this 
time  there  was  but  a  single  limitation,  according  to  the 
rules  and  regulations  of  the  university,  governing  the  trus- 
tees and  restricting  them  in  the  choice  of  their  teachers  and 
professors.  This  limitation  was  found  in  a  provision  of  the 
by-laws  requiring  that  all  persons  in  order  to  be  eligible  to 
professorships,  must  be  members  of  some  evangelical 
church  in  good  and  regular  standing. 

According  to  this  rule  Mr.  Langston  was  ineligible,  and 
when  General  Howard,  in  accordance  with  the  action  of  the 
Board  of  Trustees  and  by  their  direction,  notified  him  by 
written  communication  in  which  he  inclosed  marked  copy 
of  the  by-laws,  inviting  his  attention  to  the  provision  named, 
he  was  compelled  to  return  reply  to  the  effect  that  he  could 
not  accept  the  position  of  professor  of  law,  to  which 
according  to  his  letter  he  had  been  elected,  since  he  was 


298       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

not  a  member  of  any  church  and  had  not  concluded  to  join 
one.  Thereupon,  however,  the  Board  of  Trustees  abrogated 
that  regulation,  and  thus  made  Mr.  Langston  eligible  by 
their  action  to  the  professorship  which  they  tendered  him, 
and  he  was  unanimously  elected  thereto  on  the  twelfth  day 
of  October,  1868.  Within  a  reasonable  time  after  this 
action,  he  proceeded  to  the  organization  of  the  department ; 
not  however  until  as  late  as  September,  1869,  after  he  had 
terminated  his  relations  with  the  Freedman's  Bureau. 

In  the  regular  organization  of  the  department  there  were 
appointed  as  his  assistant  professors,  Hon.  A.  G.  Riddle  and 
Judge  Charles  C.  Nott,  and  as  instructor,  Mr.  Henry  D. 
Beam,  all  these  persons  being  white  lawyers  of  excellent 
name  and  standing,  bringing  to  the  department,  therefore, 
large  and  commanding  influence.  The  department  was 
successful  in  the  numbers,  the  character  and  the  conditions 
of  its  students  from  the  beginning.  Its  first  class  numbered 
ten  persons,  one  lady  and  nine  gentlemen.  All  completing 
the  course  regularly,  according  to  requirement,  after  a 
thorough  examination  upon  every  branch  of  the  law,  were 
graduated  and  admitted  to  practice  in  the  Supreme  Court 
of  the  District  of  Columbia.  The  course  embraced  three 
years  of  time,  and  the  students  were  required  to  pursue 
with  diligence  and  regularity,  under  their  several  lecturers, 
professors  and  instructor,  all  branches  of  the  law,  with  exer- 
cises in  a  well-organized  and  thoroughly  conducted  moot 
court,  held  every  two  weeks.  The  forensic  exercises,  con- 
sisting of  disserations,  addresses  and  debates,  with  what  was 
known  in  the  department  as  "  the  extemporaneous  ora- 
tion "  on  law  topics,  held  weekly  under  the  direction  of  the 
dean,  were  calculated  really  to  fit  a  student  in  thorough  and 
complete  manner  for  the  duties  and  labors  in  the  office  and 
the  court  house,  of  an  attorney  and  counsellor  at  law  and 
solicitor  in  chancery. 

So  far  as  the  recitations,  the  exercises  of  the  moot 
court  and  the  extemporaneous  oration  were  concerned, 
special  effort  was  employed  to  make  each  most  thorough 
and  advantageous.  The  extemporaneous  oration  was  em- 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    299 

ployed  to  develop  in  the  students  ease,  grace  and  effect 
in  what  might  be  termed  impromptu  forensic  address,  and 
to  cultivate  in  them  readiness  and  accuracy  of  thought,  with 
immediate  command  and  control  of  their  knowledge  bear- 
ing upon  any  subject  put  in  issue  and  debate.  This  exer- 
cise was  found  to  be  in  the  beginning  exceedingly  difficult, 
and  from  it  students  as  a  rule  drew  back,  preferring  to 
write  and  commit  to  memory.  However,  after  they  had 
contracted  the  habit,  to  some  extent,  of  excogitation,  or  of 
calling  to  mind  their  information  and  learning,  holding  all 
in  memory,  fitting  the  dress  to  the  thought  and  presenting 
the  same  in  natural,  graceful  manner,  according  to  the  occa- 
sion and  its  requirements,  this  exercise  became  altogether 
acceptable,  and  discovered  in  many  cases  the  greatest  possi- 
ble versatility  and  power  of  address.  It  was  found  to  be 
true  as  a  result  of  this  exercise,  that  very  soon  the  young 
man  who  could  not  extemporize  as  required  for  the  short- 
est possible  period  in  his  exercises,  became  finally  often  a 
steady,  effective  speaker,  as  easy  and  natural  as  a  born 
orator.  It  would  be  difficult  to  find  a  single  student  trained 
by  this  method,  who  was  not  according  to  the  ordinary 
standards  of  oratory  an  effective  speaker. 

The  exercises  of  the  moot  court,  including  the  draft  of 
all  papers,  the  management  of  every  sort  of  suit  involv- 
ing the  principles  and  rules  of  law,  both  civil  and  criminal, 
with  the  practice  of  the  courts,  fitted  one,  in  the  mastery  of 
himself,  his  general  knowledge  as  well  as  that  of  the  law  and 
its  practice,  for  active,  earnest  work  in  his  profession.  These 
exercises  were  conducted  under  the  immediate  supervision 
and  direction  of  the  instructor,  Mr.  Beam,  who  besides  his 
large  natural  interest  therein,  was  admirably  fitted  for  their 
conduct  by  his  extended  and  various  knowledge  of  ordinary 
legal  practice. 

Besides  such  exercises,  calculated  to  work  the  results  in- 
dicated, the  lecture  system  of  instruction  was  diligently  and 
thoroughly  cultivated.  It  would  be  found  difficult,  indeed, 
to  offer  any  students  lecturers  more  acceptable  and  efficient 
in  a  class-room  than  Mr.  Riddle  and  Judge  Nott,  both  pos- 


300       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

sessing  great  aptness  in  the  art  of  imparting  instruction, 
with  such  agreeable  manner  as  to  gain  and  hold  the  attention 
of  the  most  indifferent  student.  With  the  recitation  system 
as  thoroughly  and  diligently  cultivated,  it  would  be  quite 
impossible  for  any  student  with  average  ability  and  ordi- 
nary learning,  to  pursue  the  course  for  the  time  required 
with  only  tolerably  fair  diligence,  without  mastering  its 
various  branches  of  study.  Careful  examination  at  the 
opening  of  every  recitation  and  lecture  was  made  with  the 
class  upon  such  portion  of  study  as  had  been  considered  at 
a  former  meeting,  so  that  it  was  quite  difficult  for  any  one 
of  the  students  to  pass  any  class  duty  in  his  studies  unim- 
proved. 

All  recitations,  lectures  and  other  exercises  of  the  depart- 
ment, except  the  Sunday  morning  lecture,  were  had  in  the 
evening,  after  five  o'clock.  Such  was  the  good  understanding 
with  President  Grant  and  his  cabinet  officers,  during  both 
his  terms  of  the  presidency,  so  far  as  Howard  University 
and  its  educational  work  were  concerned,  that  Mr.  Langston 
was  able  to  secure  for  his  students  of  the  law  department, 
clerical  and  other  positions  of  service  under  the  government. 
Thus,  by  working  during  the  day,  they  could  earn  fully  all 
means  required  for  their  support  and  education,  including 
all  text-books  which  they  might  need.  Indeed,  some  of  the 
students  received  such  monthly  remuneration  as  to  enable 
them  to  save  means  for  future  use,  after  they  had  met  every 
ordinary  necessary  outlay.  At  times  Mr.  Langston  had  as 
many  as  a  hundred  persons,  male  and  female,  colored  and 
white,  thus  located,  while  pursuing  their  studies  as  his  law 
students.  General  Grant  was  especially  interested  in  the 
education  of  colored  youth,  and  in  more  than  a  hundred 
ways  showed  his  deep  concern  for  the  success  of  Howard 
University  and  the  work  of  its  law  department. 

As  the  faculty  of  the  department  was  organized  with  Mr. 
Langston  as  its  dean,  as  already  intimated,  and  Mr.  Beam 
its  secretary,  it  became  the  duty  of  the  former  to  deliver  a 
course  of  lectures  to  the  students  upon  professional  ethics. 
These  lectures,  involving  full  exposition  of  those  branches  of 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITV.    301 

intellectual  and  moral  philosophy  so  essential  to  strong,  firm 
basis  even  in  a  thorough  understanding  of  the  law,  were  pre- 
pared and  delivered  with  great  care.  The  wise  comprehen- 
sion of  the  ethics  of  the  profession  was  calculated  to  inspire 
a  high  ideal  of  its  dignity  and  aim  in  the  student,  with  such 
sense  of  honor  and  courteous,  considerate  conduct  as  to  give 
him  favor  and  influence  finally,  with  the  client,  the  court 
and  the  jury.  And  this  the  lecturer  appreciating,  sought  to 
impress  upon  the  students.  The  lectures  were  delivered 
during  each  term  from  nine  to  ten  o'clock  every  Sunday 
morning,  in  the  principal  lecture  room  of  the  department. 
All  the  law  students  were  required  to  attend,  and  it  was  in 
no  sense  an  irksome  duty  for  a  single  one.  Besides,  it  was 
common  for  large  miscellaneous  attendance  of  the  university 
generally,  and  their  friends,  to  manifest  their  interest  in 
the  exercises. 

Not  infrequently  this  Sunday  lecture  of  the  dean,  like 
the  forensic  exercises  and  the  moot  court,  was  visited  by 
distinguished,  scholarly  persons;  sometimes  those  learned 
in  the  law,  as  well  as  at  others  those  conspicuous  among 
leading  thinkers ;  who  often  by  their  words  as  well  as  their 
presence,  complimented  and  honored  the  school.  Some- 
times these  Sabbath  morning  exercises  were  made  great 
occasions  of  note  and  influence  when  some  distinguished 
philosopher  or  lawyer  addressed  the  students. 

The  friends  of  the  university  will  not  forget  how  mem- 
orable these  exercises  were  made  on  a  certain  Sabbath 
morning,  when  on  the  invitation  of  the  dean,  Ralph  Waldo 
Emerson  visited  the  department  and  upon  an  urgent  ap- 
peal made  to  him,  addressed  the  students,  telling  them  as 
no  other  man  could  do  what  books  they  should  read.  This 
lecture,  reported  by  a  sort  of  providence,  without  any  spe- 
cial arrangement  therefor,  carried  the  school  in  name  and 
influence  around  the  world.  For  how  could  Emerson  speak 
under  such  circumstances,  before  such  an  audience,  with- 
out sending  his  words  as  on  the  wings  of  the  wind  to  the 
uttermost  parts  of  creation !  So  his  address  appearing  in 
the  "  New  York  Tribune"  the  following  Monday  morning, 


302       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

went  on  its  mission,  to  be  read  as  it  moved  in  every  language, 
by  every  student  who  would  improve  himself  as  he  purified 
and  elevated  his  soul,  through  those  impalpable  though  real 
agencies  whose  lasting  influence  in  their  immortal  presence 
forever  attract  and  win  the  spirit  of  those  who  find  com- 
panionship with  great  authors  in  their  written  printed  teach- 
ings. But  this  lecture  was  worth  more  to  the  student  than 
the  lessons  taught  in  its  illustration  of  sentiment  and  doc- 
trine. It  was  a  practical  enforcement  and  exposition  be- 
yond all  comparison  as  to  the  admirable  condition  in  which 
one  finds  himself  when  forced  to  summon  all  his  thoughts 
and  learning  for  a  pressing  occasion,  and  when  he  is  com- 
pelled, standing  upon  his  feet  or  seated  in  the  lecturer's  chair, 
to  dress  his  thoughts,  the  creations  of  his  imagination  and 
his  learning,  presenting  the  whole  in  such  logical  order  and 
scholarly  method  as  to  charm  and  impress  those  who  hear, 
admire  and  applaud.  Here  was  forceful  illustration  of  the 
good  effects  of  the  "  extemporaneous  oration,"  seen  in  its 
golden  fruits  as  employed  by  the  philosopher  and  scholar 
par  excellence  of  the  country. 

On  this  occasion,  in  hesitating.to  address  the  class  when 
first  asked  to  do  so  by  the  dean,  Mr.  Emerson  stated  that 
it  was  not  his  habit  as  a  rule  to  speak  without  careful  prep- 
aration. Consenting  however,  finally,  his  performance  dem- 
onstrated how  easily  one,  the  master  of  himself  and  his 
powers,  thoughts  and  knowledge,  can  use  even  upon  the 
spur  of  the  moment,  in  impressive,  winning  style,  with 
grace  of  diction  and  effective  imagination,  those  command- 
ing ideas,  principles  and  maxims  which  constitute  the  rules 
of  education  and  moral  growth.  No  exercise  was  ever  per- 
mitted in  the  law  department  of  Howard  University  on 
Sunday  morning,  the  lesson  of  which,  with  the  impressions 
made,  did  not  tend  to  the  highest  professional,  ethical 
instruction  of  the  students.  And,  perhaps,  no  address  ever 
exerted  larger  influence  for  good  to  the  students  than  this 
one  of  the  noted  philosopher  of  New  England. 

Mr.  Langston,  with  his  associates,  professors  and  in- 
structor in  this  department,  served  for  seven  years,  and  in 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    303 

every  sense  and  particular  there  was  sustained  among  them 
absolute  harmony  of  purpose  and  effort.  To  speak  of 
Hon.  A.  G.  Riddle  as  a  lawyer  of  first-class  ability,  accom- 
plishment and  influence,  possessing  national  name,  and  as 
being  a  lecturer  of  rare  qualities  of  learning  and  effective 
address,  is  not  to  compliment  him  specially,  only  to  do  him 
simple  justice  in  unvarnished  phrase.  To  speak  of  Judge 
Nott  as  a  lawyer  occupied  constantly  with  those  matters  of 
professional  thought  and  effort  of  exalted  and  intricate 
character,  and  thus  made  familiar  with  the  law  in  its 
science  and  letter  by  experience  as  well  as  study ;  and 
rendered  the  more  competent  to  impart  instruction  with 
regard  thereto,  in  reliable,  impressive  manner ;  expert  and 
apt  as  he  was,  naturally,  in  teaching,  is  to  use  such  lan- 
guage with  respect  to  him  as  would  indicate  but  poorly  his 
merit.  As  a  conscientious  and  faithful  instructor,  earnest 
and  painstaking,  well  read  in  the  law  and  enthusiastic  in  his 
efforts  to  impart  a  knowledge  of  it  to  his  students  from  the 
text-books  and  otherwise,  and  as  laborious  in  the  skillful 
and  efficient  management  of  the  moot  court,  Mr.  Henry 
D.  Beam  won  the  respect,  the  confidence  and  the  admiration 
of  his  colleagues  of  the  faculty  and  the  students  of  the 
department.  Thus  organized  and  constituted,  the  special 
instructions  and  exercises  of  the  department  were  con- 
ducted for  the  whole  time  during  which  Mr.  Langston 
acted  as  professor  and  dean.  The  results  accomplished 
were,  all  things  considered,  entirely  satisfactory. 

It  was  in  the  law  department  of  Howard  University 
that  the  first  class  of  colored  law  students  ever  known  in 
the  United  States  was  organized,  and  for  the  first  time  in 
the  history  of  the  world  a  young  lady  was  found  in  the 
class,  sustaining  full  membership,  who  graduated  with  her 
associates  in  June,  1872.  Miss  Charlotte  B.  Ray,  leading  all 
her  sisters  in  that  course  of  study  and  with  the  full  purpose 
of  professional  labor,  graduated  with  high  honor.  In  all 
her  examinations  and  in  the  public  exercises  occurring  in 
connection  with  the  graduation  of  the  class,  in  which  she  took 
part,  reading  a  paper  on  Equity,  as  she  had  prepared  it,  this 


304       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

young  lady  from  New  York  city,  the  daughter  of  Rev. 
Charles  B.  Ray,  a  person  well  and  favorably  known,  showed 
herself  thoroughly  fitted  for  service  in  her  profession. 

The  students  of  the  department  were  not  only  required 
to  pursue  with  care  and  master  its  curriculum,  but  to  subject 
themselves  upon  the  close  of  the  course  in  order  to  gradua- 
tion to  a  final  rigid  written  examination  upon  one  hundred 
carefully  prepared  questions  covering  the  whole  body  of  the 
law  in  its  theory  and  practice,  in  test  of  their  qualifications 
for  admission  to  the  Bar  upon  the  diploma  which  might  be 
awarded  them  ;  and  to  prepare  to  the  approval  of  the  dean, 
commit  to  memory  and  deliver  or  read  on  Commencement 
Day  a  dissertation  upon  some  subject  of  the  law  selected  by 
the  student.  These  commencement  exercises  were  of  a  very 
high  order,  and  drew  large  audiences  of  the  very  best  peo- 
ple, white  and  colored,  of  Washington  city  to  the  First  Con- 
gregational church,  where  they  were  always  held.  It  was 
the  uniform  rule  at  their  close  to  have  the  graduating  class 
addressed  by  some  learned  member  of  the  profession.  The 
first  class  was  addressed  by  Hon.  Charles  Sumner.  He 
had  been  engaged  already  to  address  on  the  same  even- 
ing the  graduating  class  of  the  Columbia  Law  School,  and 
his  remuneration  had  been  fixed  at  a  very  large  sum,  when  he 
was  invited  by  the  dean  to  address  this  first  class  of  colored 
law  graduates.  However,  when  the  invitation  was  presented 
and  the  circumstances  of  the  case  were  explained,  especially 
those  features  impressed  that  this  was  the  first  class  of 
young  colored  lawyers  ever  graduating  in  the  world  ;  that  no 
man  could  so  fitly  address  them  as  himself,  and  that  no  other 
man  should  have  the  honor,  Mr.  Sumner  forewent  the 
other  engagement  and  consented  to  perform  this  duty. 
His  address  was  one  of  the  finest,  as  it  was  one  of  the  most 
appropriate  orations  that  it  had  ever  been  the  privilege  of 
any  graduating  law  class  to  hear.  It  was  model  and  match- 
less in  sentiment,  doctrine  and  diction,  conveying  to  the 
students  such  counsels  and  directions  as  they  needed,  about 
to  enter  as  they  were  upon  untried  ways  to  them  and  their 
kindred,  in  a  country  where  prejudice  existed  against  them 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    305 

on  every  hand,  and  yet  where  the  great  principles  of  law 
in  the  light  of  which  they  must  be  elevated,  if  at  all,  were 
to  be  discussed,  expounded  and  enforced  by  legislative  en- 
actment and  judicial  construction  and  application. 

After  the  graduation  of  the  first  class,  others  followed  in 
due  course  annually  thereafter  during  Mr.  Langston's  con- 
tinuance in  charge  of  the  department.  It  was  at  this  time 
that  the  very  ablest  young  colored  lawyers  studied  and  gradu- 
ated under  his  tuition.  A  large  number  of  young  white 
persons  also  pursued  their  course  of  professional  study 
under  his  direction,  graduating  according  to  the  circum- 
stances of  their  several  cases  with  the  ordinary  classes  of  the 
department.  Among  those  who  pursued  the  course  of 
study  now  settled  in  business  in  various  sections  of  the 
country,  may  be  mentioned  Messrs.  James  C.  Napier  and 
Josiah  T.  Settle,  residing  respectively  at  Nashville  and 
Memphis,  Tennessee  ;  James  H.  O'Hara,  Winston,  North 
Carolina ;  Joseph  E.  Lee,  Jacksonville,  Florida ;  D.  A. 
Straker,  Detroit,  Michigan ;  E.  H.  Belcher,  Atlanta,  Geor- 
gia;  M.  M.  Holland,  John  A.  Moss,  Thomas  B.  Warwick, 
J.  W.  Cromwell,  William  E.  Matthews,  John  C.  Rock, 
James  H.  Smith,  Will.  H.  Cole,  Washington  City,  D.  C. ; 
A.  N.  Gage,  G.  W.  Boyden,  Chicago,  Illinois  ;  James  Rouse, 
Bedford,  Pennsylvania,  and  D.  W.  Stevens,  Oberlin,  Ohio. 
Others  might  be  named  as  having  succeeded  well  in  their 
profession  within  the  first  ten  or  fifteen  years  after  their 
graduation,  but  who  too  prematurely  sickened  and  died,  in 
some  cases  from  exposure  and  overwork  in  their  inhospita- 
ble situations  in  the  South ;  while  one  or  two  were  killed 
because  of  their  earnest  and  manly  defense  of  dark-hued 
clients,  whom  they  sought  to  protect  in  the  use  of  such  le- 
gal professional  means  as  they  deemed  just  and  proper. 
Among  those  of  the  first  class  referred  to,  all  able  as  young 
lawyers,  well  educated  and  promising,  who  had  made  their 
mark  before  passing  away,  were  Messrs.  O.  S.  B.  Wall, 
John  F.  Quarlcs,  John  H.  Cook,  Charles  N.  Thomas,  George 
E.  Johnson,  George  H.  Mitchell,  Abram  W.  Shadd,  R.  P. 
Brooks,  John  H.  Blanheim,  William  C.  Roane,  Edwin  Bel- 


306       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

cher,  Charles  N.  Otey,  H.  O.  Wagoner,  Jr.,  Mary  Shadd 
Carey  and  James  M.  Adams,  whose  names  and  characters 
are  held  in  honorable  memory  by  those  who  knew  them  ; 
while  among  those  whose  lives  were  brought  to  violent 
close  in  outrage  and  wrong  must  be  recorded  the  name  of 
Mr.  Nathaniel  G.  Wynn.  He  was  engaged  at  the  time  of 
his  murder,  in  Lake  Village,  Chicot  County,  Arkansas, 
where  he  had  located,  in  defending  a  negro  client  against 
whom  public  sentiment  was  unduly  aroused  and  whose  de- 
fence, requiring  earnest  and  vigorous  effort,  brought  him  in 
contact  and  conflict  with  a  baser  class  of  society  whose 
leaders  did  not  hesitate  to  plan  and  execute  his  assassina- 
tion. He  was  a  student  of  rare  native  and  acquired 
ability,  of  moderate  though  energetic  habits  of  life,  forceful 
and  eloquent  in  his  utterances  to  the  court  and  jury.  He 
made  display  always,  of  such  skill  and  capacity  in  the  man- 
agement of  a  cause,  as  seemed  to  promise  from  the  very 
beginning  success  in  its  conduct. 

The  circumstances  connected  with  the  death  of  Captain 
O.  S.  B.  Wall  were  such  as  to  justify  special  comment  upon 
his  case.  He  had  been  practicing  at  the  Bar  regularly  for 
some  years,  winning  not  only  a  good  name  as  a  practitioner, 
but  making  large  gains  by  diligent  and  honorable  manage- 
ment of  his  business.  It  was  while  standing  before  the 
court  arguing  a  cause  that  he  was  stricken  with  paralysis. 
He  lingered  for  one  year,  broken  in  body  and  shattered  in 
intellect,  most  of  the  time  helpless,  with  his  reason  gone, 
dying  in  1891,  profoundly  mourned  by  his  relatives,  friends 
and  patrons.  Naturally  a  man  of  sterling  qualities  of  char- 
acter, improved  greatly  in  all  respects  by  his  professional 
education  and  training,  he  not  only  became  a  person  of 
broad  general  influence,  but  won  the  highest  respect  and 
consideration  of  those  who  employed  him  as  their  attorney 
and  of  those  who  knew  him  as  a  citizen,  neighbor  and  mem- 
ber of  society. 

Mr.  John  H.  Cook,  who  died  two  years  before  Captain 
Wall,  his  classmate,  had  won  before  his  death  high  consider- 
ation among  the  lawyers  of  the  Washington  Bar.  In  all 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    307 

his  efforts  he  displayed  careful  study,  accurate  knowledge, 
with  unusual  tact  and  ability.  While  he  was  not  eloquent 
he  possessed  talent,  application,  industry  and  perseverance, 
with  such  abundant  fidelity  to  duty  that  he  was  recognized 
by  all  as  a  most  worthy,  reliable  and  efficient  attorney. 

John  F.  Quarles,  by  appointment  of  Gen.  U.  S.  Grant, 
president  of  the  United  States,  was  in  1872,  at  the  request 
of  Mr.  Langston  sent  as  United  States  consul  to  Barcelona, 
He  was  continued  in  that  service,  as  transferred  by  reap- 
pointment  of  President  Hayes  subsequently  to  Malaga. 
He  served  in  this  capacity  in  all  seven  years.  Quitting 
the  service,  on  returning  to  this  country  he  located  as  an 
attorney  and  counsellor  at  law  in  New  York  city.  When 
he  was  taken  sick  and  suddenly  died,  he  had  been  located 
in  the  metropolis,  doing  a  large  lucrative  business  meantime, 
for  five  years.  He  had  made  such  impression  upon  his 
associates  at  the  Bar  and  the  court  before  which  he  chiefly 
practiced,  that  honorable  special  action  and  notice  were 
made  of  his  death,  with  record  thereof  placed  upon  the 
records  of  the  court.  He  was  a  young  man  of  rare  scholarly 
accomplishment  and  promise,  and  his  death  has  caused  a 
void  which  will  be  filled  if  at  all,  with  greatest  difficulty 
from  the  ranks  of  his  race. 

Mr.  James  M.  Adams,  who  died  within  the  year  1892, 
was  a  young  white  man  of  such  sterling  qualities  of  individ- 
ual character  and  devotion  to  his  duty  as  a  Republican,  fear- 
less in  the  advocacy  of  the  broadest  liberal  principles  of 
social  equality,  even  as  embracing  all  persons  without  dis- 
tinction of  complexion  or  nationality,  that  he  is  worthy  of 
emphatic,  favorable  mention  here.  Besides,  he  became  a 
lawyer  of  mark  in  the  region  of  country  where  he  lived  and 
died,  and  thus  rendered  himself  a  noted  illustration  of  ear- 
nest and  successful  professional  achievement. 

Indeed  the  graduates  of  this  department  while  under  the 
management  of  Mr.  Langston,  discovered  in  their  practice 
wherever  situated  such  preparation  for  service  and  such 
appreciation  of  professional  obligation  and  duty  that  they, 
so  far  as  attempts  were  made  by  them  to  perform  the  ser- 


308       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

vices  of  the  attorney  and  counsellor  at  law,  won  marked 
and  influential  positions  as  members  of  the  Bar. 

As  the  name  and  character  of  the  law  department  of  the 
university  became  known  and  the  results  of  its  training 
were  made  manifest,  an  increasing  number  of  white  students 
joined  it  and  pursued,  with  their  colored  associates,  its  reg- 
ular courses  of  study,  many  of  them  graduating  with  honor 
and  satisfaction  to  their  friends.  Several  such  persons  in 
different  parts  of  the  country  are  now  occupying  conspicu- 
ous and  desirable  positions  in  the  profession. 

No  class  graduated  without  a  parting  word  from  the 
dean  delivered  immediately  after  he  had  presented  the  di- 
plomas, and  it  was  always  one  of  counsel  and  encourage- 
ment. Every  State  of  the  South  had  its  representatives  in 
the  law  department  ;  several  of  the  North  were  also  repre- 
sented, and  quite  a  number  of  persons  from  the  West  In- 
dies attended  upon  its  instructions. 

All  the  students  of  the  department  entertained  and  mani- 
fested uniformly  toward  their  dean  special  respect  and 
affection.  They  not  only  yielded  ready  obedience  to  every 
rule  and  regulation  prescribed,  but  every  request  and  sug- 
gestion of  his  was  accepted  by  them  in  the  spirit  of  real 
docility,  with  cheerfulness  and  gratitude.  He  was  regarded 
and  treated  by  them  as  a  parent  and  benefactor.  On  a 
noted  and  memorable  occasion  in  February,  1870,  the  stu- 
dents of  the  department  provided,  at  large  outlay  to  them, 
certain  articles  of  silverware,  jewelry,  cane  and  books, 
copies  of  Shakespeare's  works,  constituting  a  gift  of  rare 
richness  and  value,  which  with  considerable  and  becoming 
circumstance  and  ceremony  they  presented  to  the  dean,  in 
expression  of  their  high  esteem  and  appreciation  of  him. 
The  presentation,  made  in  the  presence  of  an  imposing  au- 
dience of  their  friends  in  the  lecture  hall  of  the  depart- 
ment, was  an  impressive  aud  brilliant  affair.  The  articles 
were  greatly  admired,  selected  as  they  were  with  taste  and 
judgment.  They  are  valued  and  preserved  as  sacred  heir- 
looms, and  the  donors  are  remembered  with  sentiments  of 
profound  regard  and  gratitude. 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    309 

Perhaps  no  instructor  ever  found  his  students  more 
thoroughly  devoted  to  him,  or  more  appreciative  of  his  ser- 
vices rendered  in  their  interest.  All  of  them  were  cared  for 
so  far  as  necessary,  not  only  in  matters  of  study  and 
scholarly  culture,  but  in  those  material  needed  wants  con- 
nected with  their  daily  life  and  labors.  Mr.  Langston 
counts  that  his  happiest  days  of  professional  labor  were 
those  spent  by  him  in  service  in  the  law  department  of 
Howard  University,  and  he  counts  them  useful  and  honor- 
able as  he  was  permitted  to  start  the  foremost  colored  youth 
of  the  country  upon  those  lofty  dignified  ways  of  the  law, 
of  which  they  and  their  fathers  had  known  nothing  in  their 
experience.  The  results  of  his  labors  in  this  behalf  are 
grateful  and  pleasing  to  him  as  he  marks  and  considers  the 
high  standing  already  gained  by  the  young  lawyers,  white 
and  colored,  who  studying  under  his  tuition  and  taking 
their  diplomas  of  graduation  from  his  hands,  have  won  dis- 
tinction and  standing  at  the  American  Bar. 

As  Gen.  O.  O.  Howard  had  given  Mr.  Langston  the 
position  of  general  inspector  of  the  Bureau  of  Refugees, 
Freedmen  and  Abandoned  Lands,  so  he  had  been  instru- 
mental in  bringing  him  to  the  high  scholarly,  professional 
place  in  the  institution  of  learning  which  bore  his  name. 
There  seemed  to  be  very  little  left  in  honorable  promotion, 
with  opportunity  for  dignified  useful  labor,  which  this 
friend  could  accomplish  through  his  further  efforts  in  this 
direction.  But  the  time  came  in  1873,  when  his  circum- 
stances and  duties  were  such  that  change  and  readjustment 
must  be  made  in  the  presidency  of  the  university.  It 
seemed  to  be  absolutely  necessary  that  General  Howard 
should  retire  altogether  therefrom  and  a  successor  be  pro- 
vided for  the  place ;  or  provision  be  made  should  he  remain 
president  in  name,  for  a  vice-president  who  should  be  in 
fact  the  acting  president  of  the  university. 

It  was  entirely  natural  under  the  circumstances  that  that 
course  in  the  premises  be  pursued  and  that  such  person 
be  selected  for  duty  as  the  projector  and  chief  patron  of 
the  university  might  suggest  and  recommend.  General 


3io       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Howard  had  been  in  management  of  the  university  for 
some  time,  and  in  that  capacity  had  manifested  in  his  work 
such  conscientiousness  and  sincerity,  with  such  sagacity  and 
moderation  as  from  his  experience  and  reputation  might 
have  been  expected.  Who  then  could  be  so  well  qualified 
to  advise,  counsel  and  direct  those  in  authority,  as  this 
friend  of  the  university  and  this  person  so  entirely 
acquainted  with  its  condition  and  necessities  ?  His  words 
were  very  properly  considered  to  be  those  of  an  impartial 
and  well-informed  promoter  of  an  enterprise  which  was 
perhaps  in  his  estimation,  above  all  others  important  and 
sacred. 

The  trustees  had  convened  in  regular  meeting,  with  an 
unusually  large  attendance.  The  deans  of  the  several 
departments  of  the  university,  according  to  a  well-established 
regulation,  were  also  present.  The  president  in  opening 
the  meeting,  had  offered  one  of  his  most  solemn,  earnest 
prayers,  asking  the  Lord  to  enlarge  the  understandings  and 
enlighten  the  minds  of  those  in  authority,  so  that  they 
might  meet  and  discharge  with  due  wisdom  any  duty 
which  might  be  imposed  upon  them  in  furtherance  of  the 
university  whose  interests  they  held  in  their  control.  It 
was  not  known,  nor  did  anyone  imagine  why  General 
Howard  should,  under  the  circumstances,  thus  invoke  with 
such  peculiar  feeling  the  influences  of  the  Spirit.  No  one 
understood  that  he  was  about  to  make  a  communication  as 
to  himself,  his  relations  to  the  university  and  his  prospec- 
tive movements,  which  would  affect  so  deeply  and  seriously 
every  person  present.  No  one  could  have  believed  in 
advance  of  his  own  statement,  that  he  could  entertain  and 
propose  any  change  in  his  attitude  to  the  presidency  of  the 
university.  His  position  therein  seemed  to  be  from  fitness 
and  propriety,  permanent  and  unchangeable. 

However,  so  soon  as  the  ordinary  pressing  business  of 
the  meeting  had  been  disposed  of,  General  Howard  made 
known  formally  his  purpose  of  leaving  Washington  city 
within  a  short  time,  for  duty  in  connection  with  the  army 
in  a  distant  part  of  the  country.  He  also  submitted  in  the 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    311 

same  statement,  that  under  the  rules  and  regulations  estab- 
lished by  the  trustees  he  would  be  compelled  to  resign  the 
presidency  of  the  university.  This  announcement  was  both 
surprising  and  affecting.  However,  recovering  somewhat 
from  its  immediate  effect,  while  they  fully  appreciated  the 
results  to  follow  the  separation,  the  Board  of  Trustees  and 
the  friends  present  entered,  as  in  duty  bound,  promptly 
upon  the  consideration  of  what  should  be  done. 

At  once,  in  anxious  profound  attention,  all  gave  audience 
as  they  ought  to  have  done  to  General  Howard,  who  in 
clear  concise  manner  described  his  circumstances,  with  expla- 
nation of  the  causes  which  necessitated  the  action  proposed. 
He  indicated,  also,  what  might  be  done  in  the  way  of 
provision  for  filling  the  vacancy  which  must  occur  upon  his 
resignation.  If  his  resignation  should  be  accepted,  to  take 
effect  at  once,  a  successor  might  be  elected  and  inaugurated 
without  delay.  Should  he  be  permitted  to  absent  himself 
for  an  indefinite  period,  while  holding  the  presidency  nomi- 
nally, a  vice-presidency  might  be  established  and  filled,  the 
person  called  to  that  place  serving  from  his  inauguration  as 
the  acting  president  of  the  university. 

So  far  explanations  and  suggestions  had  been  made  and 
the  Board  of  Trustees  were  giving  attention  to  them,  when 
Mr.  Langston,  the  dean  of  the  law  department,  and  Professor 
Westcott,  the  dean  of  the  college  department,  were  re- 
quested by  the  president  himself  to  retire  from  the  meeting 
for  a  few  moments;  but  they  were  asked  at  the  same  time, 
not  to  go  beyond  the  quick  and  easy  reach  of  the  meeting, 
as  they  might  be  needed.  These  gentlemen  retired.  Why 
they  were  asked  to  do  so,  neither  understood  ;  nor  did  it 
occur  to  either,  that  any  question  with  respect  to  change  in 
his  relations  to  the  university  was  to  be  discussed.  Cer- 
tainly, the  dean  of  the  law  department  could  not  have 
thought  that  his  name  would  be  in  any  wise  considered  with 
respect  to  the  executiveship  of  the  university.  It  was  true 
that  at  the  time  the  law  department  was  in  a  most  flour- 
ishing condition,  with  large  attendance  and  increasing 
promise.  However,  its  dean  did  not,  in  view  of  these  facts, 


3i2       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

connect  his  name  with  such  promotion  as  was  implied  in  an 
election  to  the  vice-presidency  of  the  university. 

About  one  hour  had  elapsed  when  Professors  Westcott  and 
Langston  were  invited  to  return.  They  had  but  taken  their 
seats  in  the  Board,  when  the  president  addressing  Professor 
Langston,  made  to  him  what  was  a  most  surprising  and  un- 
expected announcement.  It  was  that  he  had  not  been  per- 
mitted to  resign  ;  that  he  had  been  given  by  the  trustees  an 
indefinite  leave  of  absence ;  that  provision  had  been  made 
for  the  establishment  of  a  vice-presidency,  and  that  on 
the  recommendation  and  request  of  himself,  he  (Professor 
Langston)  had  been  elected  unaminously  to  fill  the  posi- 
tion. He  further  explained  that  under  the  circumstances 
the  vice-president  would  take  immediate,  uninterrupted 
charge  of  the  university  ;  that  he  would  adopt  his  own  pol- 
icy as  to  its  management,  and  that  the  president  would 
not  interfere  with  him,  other  than  as  he  sustained  and 
promoted  him  in  his  work.  He  added  that  so  far  as 
the  salary  connected  with  the  vice-presidency  was  concerned, 
it  had  been  fixed  at  fifteen  hundred  dollars  per  annum,  and 
that  there  should  be  no  interruption  or  disturbance  of  Pro- 
fessor Langston's  relations  to  the  law  department,  it  being 
understood  that  he  should  continue  his  services  as  pro- 
fessor and  dean  therein. 

Urged  to  decide  and  make  known  his  acceptance  of  the 
vice-presidency  at  once,  since  Professor  Langston  ques- 
tioned in  his  own  mind  his  ability  and  fitness  for  such  high 
place,  with  its  various  and  trying  responsiblities,  he  asked 
under  the  circumstances  to  be  given  a  few  hours,  until  the 
next  morning,  to  accept  or  decline  it.  Upon  the  adjourn- 
ment of  the  meeting  he  had  a  full,  free  talk  with  General 
Howard,  who  assured  him  that  he  would  render  every 
assistance  practicable  to  make  his  administration  agree- 
able and  successful ;  that  he  personally  desired  very  much 
that  Professor  Langston  should  take  charge  of  the  univer* 
sity,  and  that  he  had  accordingly  recommended  him.  He 
also  said  to  him,  "  You  must  not  decline  this  honor, 
although  it  brings  grave  resonsibilities  and  arduous  duties." 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    313 

"  Your  success,"  he  continued,  "  in  the  management  and 
direction  of  the  law  department,  shows  that  you  possess  all 
those  qualities  of  character,  learning  and  experience,  neces- 
sary to  make  an  efficient  and  honorable  record  in  this  higher 
and  more  responsible  scholarly  capacity."  Thus  assured  and 
encouraged,  Professor  Langston  accepted  the  vice  and  act- 
ing presidency  of  the  university.  He  was  duly  inducted 
into  office  and  entered  at  once  upon  the  discharge  of  its 
duties. 

While  there  was  deep  general  regret  that  General  Howard 
found  it  necessary  for  him  to  practically  resign  his  connec- 
tion with  the  presidency  of  the  university  and  put  its 
management  in  other  hands,;  it  is  a  fact  that  Mr.  Langston's 
appointment,  as  indicated,  was  received  with  great  favor  and 
popular  approval.  Whatever  changes  he  found  it  necessary 
to  make  in  any  of  the  departments,  and  whatever  regulations 
he  deemed  it  proper  to  adopt  for  the  general  good  of  the 
university,  were  kindly  and  cordially  approved  by  the 
authorities.  Students  increased  in  numbers  ;  the  university 
grew  in  favor,  and  the  professors  as  well  as  the  patrons 
were  pleased  with  the  evidences  discovered  on  all  sides  of 
the  success  which  was  promised  in  the  new  and  vigorous 
administration.  The  business  condition  of  the  university 
was  not  disturbed  ;  really  it  was  improved  by  close  and 
economical  financial  management.  Indigent  students  found 
themselves  provided  for  and  their  interests  wisely  conserved. 
The  encouraging  and  fostering  influence  of  the  new  execu- 
tive was  felt  no  more  in  the  law  department,  which  he 
loved  as  the  child  of  his  own  creation,  than  in  the  collegiate, 
the  normal,  the  medical  and  the  theological.  Very  soon 
there  was  no  student  under  his  control  who  did  not  recog- 
nize him  as  his  friend,  interested  alike  in  his  progress  as  a 
student  and  general  prosperity  and  happiness.  All  confided 
in  him,  and  without  hesitation  brought  all  matters  of  anxiety, 
trouble  and  disappointment  to  him,  feeling  assured  that  in 
him  they  would  find  a  willing  sympathizing  counsellor. 
The  professors  and  teachers  in  all  the  departments  sus- 
tained him  in  every  effort  made  to  promote  any  special 


314       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

interest,  and  in  every  one  of  general  character,  concerning 
the  whole  university.  In  all  public  exercises,  as  in  all 
the  duties  of  the  various  faculties,  as  they  respected  ordi- 
nary instruction  and  discipline,  he  enjoyed  constantly  the 
encouragement  and  the  support  of  all  called  to  authority. 
Indeed,  the  harmony  obtaining  throughout  the  university 
among  professors  and  students,  as  far  as  the  acting  presi- 
dent was  concerned,  with  cordial  good  understanding,  was 
most  unusual  and  signal. 

The  first  year  of  his  administration  was  closing  when  the 
Board  of  Trustees  convened  in  their  regular  annual  meeting 
and  Mr.  Langston  was  called  to  preside  for  the  first  time. 
This  meeting  was  held  in  June  and  about  the  commence- 
ment time.  It  found  the  vice-president  in  the  midst  of 
those  duties  which  were  naturally  connected  with  the  clos- 
ing scenes  of  the  academical  year  of  the  university,  and 
such  exercises  as  were  usual  at  that  time.  Everything  had 
moved  smoothly  as  indicated,  and  the  prosperity  of  the 
university  as  well  as  its  good  order  was  apparent.  In  this 
meeting,  held  June  17,  1874,  the  Board  of  Trustees  adopted 
unanimously  and  transmitted  to  Mr.  Langston  its  action 
as  follows : 

"  Rev.  George  Whipple  moved  that  the  Board  of  Trustees  express  their 
thanks  to  Prof.  John  M.  Langston  for  the  manner  in  which  he  has  discharged 
the  duties  of  acting  president,  and  we  will  give  him  our  hearty  support  in  all 
his  efforts  to  sustain  and  carry  out  the  policy  of  this  Board  as  developed  at 
this  annual  meeting." 

Subsequently,  on  the  3Oth  day  of  June  of  the  same  year, 
as  Mr.  Langston  was  opening  the  public  exercises  of  the 
normal  department  in  the  college  chapel  in  the  evening  of 
that  day,  General  Howard,  in  attendance  upon  the  meeting 
of  the  Board  of  Trustees  then  in  session  and  as  commis- 
sioned by  such  body,  entering  the  chapel,  asked  permission 
to  interrupt  the  exercises  at  their  very  beginning  for  a  few 
minutes.  Attention  was  given  him  accordingly,  when  step- 
ping upon  the  platform,  he  delivered  to  the  acting  president 
in  the  presence  of  the  crowded  audience  of  students  and 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    315 

friends  of  the  university,  a  most  remarkable  though  brief 
address,  complimenting  him  upon  his  successful  manage- 
ment of  the  affairs  of  the  university  up  to  that  time,  and 
stating  that  the  trustees  had  found  themselves  so  pleased 
therewith  that  they  had  directed  him  to  present  the  follow- 
resolution,  which  had  just  been  unanimously  adopted  by 
the  board. 

"  Resolved  :  That  the  Degree  of  Doctor  of  Laws  be  and  is  hereby  conferred 
on  Prof.  John  M.  Langston,  Vice-President  of  this  Board  of  Trustees." 

This  resolution,  afterward  duly  engrossed,  was  presented 
in  formal  communication.  It  is  needless  to  state  that  the 
address  of  General  Howard  with  the  action  of  the  Board  of 
Trustees,  as  explained  by  him,  was  received  with  the  liveliest 
demonstrations  of  approval  and  applause  by  all  who  heard 
him.  It  was  difficult  indeed  for  Mr.  Langston  to  even 
express  his  thanks  in  the  simplest  manner,  by  reason  of  the 
popular  protracted  exhibition  of  general  favor  showing 
itself  for  many  minutes,  even  in  uncontrollable  outbursts. 

Among  other  testimonials  which  may  be  adduced  to 
show  how,  even  in  his  rigid  and  thorough  discipline  had  in 
the  management  of  the  university,  Mr.  Langston  succeeded, 
the  following  extracts  taken  from  an  article  written  by  Mr. 
Yardley  Warner  and  published  in  "  The  Freedmen's  Moni- 
tor "  for  the  month  of  November,  1874,  after  a  visit  paid  to 
it  and  a  careful  examination  of  each  of  its  departments,  are 
presented  : 

"  The  institution  (Howard  University)  has  just  become  erect  and  solid.  The 
piles  of  her  fabric  have  just  been  driven  down  to  the  hard  pan  prepared  to 
bear  the  superstructure  which  the  industry  of  the  freedmen  and  the  liberality 
of  their  friends  will  soon  lay  upon  them.  The  local  administration  is  the  true 
and  the  vigorous  ;  the  right  man  has  come  to  the  front  at  last — John  M.  Lang- 
ston, acting  president.  Talk  to  Mr.  Langston  closely ;  inspect  everything  and 
everywhere.  See  a  moral  standard  higher  and  upborne  more  faithfully  than 
that  of  any  college  in  the  South,  if  not  than  any  in  the  North.  No  smoking 
nor  spitting  of  any  sort  in  the  chapel  nor  in  any  of  the  rooms ;  the  most 
thorough  and  easy  discipline  and  a  very  happy  social  temper  pervading  the 
whole  community  inside  the  walls." 

During  the  entire    time  of   his  administration  called    to 


316       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

make  no  compromise  with  student,  professor,  or  officer  of 
the  university  calculated  to  disturb  or  lower  his  standard 
of  authority  and  discipline,  Mr.  Langston  maintained  with 
equanimity  and  moderation  the  good  order  and  prosperity 
of  the  entire  institution.  During  this  time,  as  acting  presi- 
dent, he  addressed  the  graduating  class  of  each  department, 
holding  such  views,  if  addressing  one  graduating  from  the 
normal  department,  or  one  from  the  college,  or  one  from 
the  theological,  or  the  law  or  the  medical,  as  seemed  cal- 
culated to  elevate  and  sustain  the  ethics  of  the  profession  to 
be  pursued,  and  to  stimulate  active  and  earnest  purpose  in 
the  cultivation  of  those  sacred,  holy  things  of  learning  and 
science,  to  be  gained  and  mastered  would  one  succeed  in  the 
highest  and  truest  sense  in  the  calling  of  his  choice. 

Having  served  the  institution  as  professor  of  law  and 
dean  of  the  law  department  for  seven  full  years,  and  as 
vice  and  acting  president  for  two  years  of  such  term,  after 
he  had  attended  to  ever}'  duty  connected  with  the  com- 
mencement exercises,  presided  at  the  annual  meeting  of  the 
Board  of  Trustees,  and  had  presented  to  them  his  annual 
report,  showing  the  general  and  financial  condition  of  the 
university,  in  June,  1876,  Mr.  Langston  feeling  that  the 
time  had  arrived  when  a  president  should  be  provided  by 
due  election  and  inauguration  for  the  institution,  tendered 
his  resignation.  He  felt  that  the  time  had  come,  with  the 
conditions  of  the  school,  then,  in  every  sense  good  and  its 
prospect  for  usefulness  promising,  for  the  trustees  to  elect 
a  president,  who  entering  upon  his  duties  with  earnestness 
and  vigor,  assured  of  hearty  support,  with  means,  might 
make  the  university  an  educational  power  representative  of 
the  highest  style  of  American  scholarship,  morality  and 
Christian  influence.  In  order  to  this  end,  he  believed  that 
a  president  of  marked  individual  personal  character,  large 
and  general  reputation  as  a  scholar  and  educator,  and  ac- 
knowledged efficiency  in  general  business,  should  be  elected. 
He  held  that  such  distinct  individual  character  and  power, 
with  ample  knowledge  of  and  sympathy  with  the  great  body 
of  persons  to  be  educated  at  the  university,  were  indispen- 


LAW  DEPARTMENT  OF  HOWARD  UNIVERSITY.    317 

sable  to  its  success.  His  resignation  was  accepted,  but  his 
name  was  mentioned  with  no  little  emphasis  in  connection 
with  the  presidency  now  to  be  filled,  by  the  colored  mem- 
bers especially,  of  the  Board  of  Trustees.  Finally,  however, 
the  Rev.  George  Whipple,  the  leading  member  of  the  Board 
of  Trustees,  and  at  the  time  the  secretary  of  the  American 
Missionary  Association,  was  elected  to  fill  the  vacancy.  It 
is  due  all  concerned  that  it  be  stated  that  every  colored 
trustee  voted  for  Mr.  Langston,  while  every  white  one 
voted  for  Mr.  Whipple.  However,  Mr.  Whipple  did  not  ac- 
cept the  position,  and  when  Mr.  Langston  left,  his  associ- 
ates of  the  law  department  left  also,  and  the  university  was 
for  some  time  without  a  president.  In  no  sense  or  manner 
was  any  objection  or  criticism  made  by  any  trustee  or 
officer  of  the  university,  at  any  time  during  Mr.  Langston's 
administration,  of  his  conduct  or  management  of  its  affairs. 
And  to  this  day  no  words  of  censure  or  faultfinding  have 
been  heard  in  such  regard,  against  him.  In  the  seven  years 
of  service  as  professor  of  law  and  dean  of  the  law  de- 
partment, and  vice  and  acting  president  of  Howard  Uni- 
versity, the  record  which  he  made  is  one  of  which  he  may 
not  be  at  all  ashamed,  but  the  rather  satisfied  and  proud. 


CHAPTER    XXI. 

PRESIDENT    GRANT    APPOINTS     HIM     A     MEMBER     OF     THE 
BOARD   OF   HEALTH   OF  THE   DISTRICT    OF    COLUMBIA. 

ON  the  fifteenth  day  of  March,  1871,  President  U.  S. 
Grant,  "  resposing  special  trust  and  confidence  in  the 
integrity,  diligence  and  discretion  of"  John  M.  Langston, 
appointed  him  a  member  of  the  Board  of  Health  for  the 
District  of  Columbia.  Such  responsibility  and  honor  had 
never  been  conferred  upon  a  colored  man  before  in  the 
United  States,  either  in  connection  with  the  national  or 
any  state  government.  He  was  the  first  and  perhaps  the 
only  sanitarian  that  his  race  had  produced  so  far  as  this 
country  was  concerned.  The  honor  and  the  responsibility 
came  without  solicitation,  and  to  the  surprise  of  the  one 
who  was  dignified  by  it.  He  had  not  supposed  that  in  the 
creation  of  this  sanitary  organ  any  one  of  his  particular 
class  would  be  considered,  even  by  a  Republican  admin- 
istration, in  the  appointment  and  commission  of  those  who 
should  compose  its  membership  ;  especially,  since  no  repre- 
sentative of  that  class  had  claimed  such  technical  knowl- 
edge, or  gained  such  experience  as  to  make  his  case  one 
warranting  that  action  in  his  behalf.  It  is  true,  however, 
that  Mr.  Langston  was  given  the  appointment  in  view  of 
the  fact  that  he  was  a  lawyer  by  profession,  and  the  Board 
of  Health  would,  in  addition  to  the  services  of  learned  and 
distinguished  doctors,  and  an  able  lay  member  taken  from 


DR.T.  S.  VERDI.. 

BOARD  OF  HEALTH  OF  THE  DISTRICT  OF  COLUMBIA. 


DR.  c.  c.  cox. 


APPOINTED  A  MEMBER  OF  THE  BOARD  OF  HEALTH.  319 

the  more  advanced  and  active  business  class,  need  those  of 
an  efficient  and  vigorous  attorney. 

Created  for  special  and  well-defined  objects  having  con- 
cern for  the  public  health  of  the  national  capital  and  the 
District  of  Columbia,  under  a  law  passed  by  Congress  Feb- 
ruary 2ist,  1871,  providing  for  and  conferring  authority  and 
power  in  that  regard,  new  indeed  to  all  the  people  of  the 
United  States,  and  needing  exact  construction  in  order  to 
its  wise  enforcement,  it  might  be  supposed  very  properly 
that  persons  eminent  in  their  professions,  noted  for  their 
technical  knowledge,  resulting  as  well  from  their  experience 
and  observation  as  reading  and  study,  would  be  called  to 
constitute  the  personnel  of  such  Board.  And,  indeed,  the 
rule  indicated  seems  to  have  been  the  one  which  the  presi- 
dent followed  in  the  selection  of  the  persons  who  should 
direct  and  control  the  service  about  to  be  inaugurated. 
Provision  was  made  for  the  appointment  of  five  persons, 
with  salaries,  each,  at  the  rate  of  three  thousand  dollars  per 
year. 

Since  all  that  broad  field  of  science  which  had  to  do  with 
all  those  nuisances  troublesome  and  destructive  to  the 
public  health  must  be  explored,  it  was  proper  that  at  least 
three  of  the  five  persons  to.  be  named  should  be  gentlemen 
of  the  medical  profession,  well  and  thoroughly  read  gen- 
erally in  their  calling,  and  specially,  if  possible,  with  respect 
to  the  subjects  implied  as  falling  within  the  purview  and 
scope  of  their  authority  and  of  their  control.  It  was,  too, 
proper  under  the  circumstances,  that  the  great  branches  of 
the  medical  profession,  Allopathic  and  Homoeopathic, 
should  each  be  represented  in  a  national  health  organ 
located  as  this  was,  finding  its  jurisdiction  within  the  Dis- 
trict of  Columbia.  Accordingly,  the  president  selected 
Drs.  C.  C.  Cox  and  D.  W.  Bliss  as  the  representatives  of 
the  first,  and  Dr.  T.  S.  Verdi  of  the  second,  the  latter  stand- 
ing among  the  first  members  of  his  school. 

Grave  questions  of  business  importance  would  necessarily 
arise  with  respect  to  the  application  and  enforcement  of  those 
provisions  of  the  law  which  respected  the  prevention  of 


320       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

domestic  animals  from  running  at  large  within  the  cities  of 
Washington  and  Georgetown  ;  the  establishment  of  one  or 
more  pounds  therein ;  the  collection  and  removal  of  offals 
therefrom,  and  the  expenditure  of  all  funds  appropriated 
for  those  purposes.  Hence  the  propriety  of  appointing  a 
man  of  broad  business  knowledge  and  understanding,  com- 
petent to  the  wise  and  effective  discharge  of  any  duty 
which  might  be  involved  in  any  action  taken  under  the  law. 
The  Hon.  John  Marbury,  Jr.  was  appointed,  therefore,  such 
member  of  the  Board.  But  if  doctors  were  needed  and  a 
business  man  to  secure,  according  to  the  learning  and  ability 
of  each,  the  wise  and  efficient  enforcement  of  a  law  whose 
provisions  were  comparatively  new  and  whose  purposes  had 
not  been  attempted  hitherto  in  the  District  of  Columbia, 
where  more  than  a  hundred  thousand  people  were  found, 
many  of  them  persons  of  wealth  and  influence,  and  a  large 
proportion  of  them  utterly  opposed  to  that  law  and  any 
effort  at  its  execution,  how  could  the  Board  hope  to  suc- 
ceed without  the  learning,  skill  and  labors  of  a  lawyer? 
Hence  the  appointment  of  John  M.  Langston  as  the 
lawyer  of  the  Board  by  President  Grant,  to  whom  he  was 
debtor  for  many  marks  of  exalted  consideration  during  his 
administration  of  the  government.  The  expression  of  con- 
fidence and  esteem  made  by  the  president  in  this  appoint- 
ment has  always  been  profoundly  and  gratefully  regarded. 

The  first  meeting  of  the  members  of  the  Board  was 
informal,  and  held  at  the  office  of  the  then  governor  of  the 
District  of  Columbia  just  after  each  one  had  received  his 
commission  and  taken  the  oath  of  office.  The  object  in 
meeting  at  this  time  and  at  that  place  was  to  make  the 
acquaintance  of  each  other  and  to  gain,  so  far  as  practica- 
ble, full  understanding  from  Gov.  H.  D.  Cooke  as  to  his 
expectations  of  service  from  the  Board,  under  the  law 
establishing  it  and  prescribing  its  powers  and  duties.  At 
this  time  Mr.  Langston  had  not  met  one  of  his  future  col- 
leagues, nor  had  he  made  the  acquaintance  of  the  governor. 
Hence  he  entered  the  office  and  the  presence  of  the  meet- 
ing unheralded  and  without  introduction,  to  take  his  seat 


APPOINTED  A  MEMBER  or  THE  BOARD  OF  HEALTH.  321 

apart  and  to  receive  no  recognition  until  after  the  gentle- 
men other  than  himself,  members  of  the  Board,  had  been 
fully  addressed  by  the  governor  in  answer  to  such  ques- 
tions as  they  had  seen  fit  to  ask  him,  and  such  suggestions 
with  respect  to  the  enforcement  of  the  law  concerning  the 
sanitary  service  as  they  had  deemed  it  prudent  and  agree- 
able to  make.  In  fact,  the  governor  was  ready  to  retire 
and  the  gentlemen  to  separate,  when  Mr.  Langston  begged 
of  Governor  Cooke  the  privilege  of  putting  to  him  with  a 
little  more  precision  and  definiteness  two  or  three  ques- 
tions upon  as  many  provisions  of  the  organic  law  creating 
the  Board  and  defining  its  authority.  It  was  apparent  from 
the  appearance  of  the  governor  and  the  look  of  the  mem- 
bers present,  that  it  was  necessary  for  Mr.  Langston  to  give 
the  authority  at  once  by  which  he  appeared  in  that  gath- 
ering and  essayed  to  catechise  his  excellency.  Perceiving 
this,  he  made  haste,  taking  his  commission  out  of  his 
pocket,  to  state  that  he  had  been  appointed  a  member  of 
the  Board  ;  that  he  had  just  taken  the  oath  of  office  before 
the  secretary  of  the  District,  and  by  him  had  been  directed 
to  appear  at  once  at  this  meeting.  Thereupon  he  was  rec- 
ognized, and  was  permitted  to  present  his  inquiries  accord- 
ingly. In  view  of  the  questions  put,  it  is  but  just  to  say 
that  two  very  distinct  things  were  discovered  by  all  present. 
One  was  that  Mr.  Langston,  who  now  engaged  in  conversa- 
tion with  the  governor,  putting  questions  to  him  which, 
when  he  did  not  seem  to  be  quite  at  home  in  answering,  so 
assisted  him  by  his  skillful  suggestions  and  insinuations  as 
to  show  himself  fairly  informed,  even  as  a  lawyer,  as  to  the 
subjects  upon  which  the  conversation  was  had.  The  sec- 
ond was  that  the  knowledge  already  shown  by  the  governor 
and  other  members  of  the  Board  and  the  information 
imparted  were  neither  full  nor  exhaustive ;  not  even  suf- 
ficient for  wise  and  comprehensive  action  under  the  law. 

Mr.  Langston  so  soon  as  advised  of  his  appointment  had 
not  only  read  and  studied  with  care  the  provisions  of  the 
act  creating  the  Board,  but  he  had  secured  and  read  dili- 
gently the  sanitary  reports  and  proceedings  of  the  Boards  of 


322       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

Health  of  Massachusetts  and  New  York,  and  his  questions 
and  answers  in  his  interview  with  Governor  Cooke  were 
largely  founded  upon  and  reflected  such  information  as  he 
had  gained  from  those  sources.  It  served  however  to  put 
him  immediately  in  new  and  pleasant  relations,  personally, 
with  the  members  of  the  Board,  who  from  that  time  treated 
him  in  all  respects  with  kindly,  impartial  consideration. 
The  governor  thereafter,  too,  always  displayed  the  most 
cordial,  considerate  respect  for  him. 

Shortly  after  this  occurrence  the  members  of  the  Board 
held  their  first  formal  meeting  in  rooms  provided  for  that 
purpose,  to  organize  and  constitute  the  various  committees 
necessary  for  the  proper  discharge  of  its  service.  Dr.  C.  C. 
Cox  was  elected  president ;  Dr.  D.  W.  Bliss,  secretary ; 
John  Marbury,  Jr.,  treasurer  ;  John  M.  Langston,  attorney, 
and  Dr.  T.  S.  Verdi,  health  officer.  The  several  commit- 
tees were  duly  constituted,  and  the  different  persons  se- 
lected for  each  were  named  according  to  their  respective 
rank  and  position  thereon.  Mr.  Langston  was  made  chair- 
man of  the  Committee  on  Ordinances,  with  Dr.  Bliss  as  his 
associate  member;  and  Mr.  John  Marbury,  Jr.  was  made 
chairman  of  the  Committee  on  Finance,  with  Mr.  Langston 
as  his  associate.  Mr.  Langston's  position  as  chairman  of 
the  Committee  on  Ordinances  made  him  in  fact,  ex-officio, 
the  attorney  of  the  Board.  As  thus  constituted,  the  stand- 
ing committees  remained  for  the  entire  period  of  Mr.  Lang- 
ston's membership  of  the  Board.  It  was  the  especial  duty 
of  the  Committee  on  Ordinances  to  draw  all  ordinances, 
rules  and  regulations  needed  for  the  government  of  the 
Board  in  its  service,  under  the  law  of  its  creation.  It  was 
its  further  duty  to  pass  upon  all  questions  connected  with 
the  service  involving  any  legal  question  to  be  decided  by 
the  Board.  Its  plan  and  order  of  business  was  to  prepare 
and  report  its  opinions  and  other  matters  in  writing,  where 
forms  of  regulation  or  blanks  merely  were  required,  sub- 
mitting the  forms  in  either  case  with  the  report  to  be  ap- 
proved and  adopted  by  the  Board  itself.  It  is  not  difficult,. 
in  view  of  this  statement,  to  apprehend  and  appreciate  at 


APPOINTED  A  MEMBER  OF  THE  BOARD  OF  HEALTH.  323 

once  the  dignity  and  responsibility  of  this  committee,  and 
particularly  the  importance  and  necessity  of  large  intelli- 
gence and  knowledge,  with  sagacity  and  moderation  on  the 
part  of  its  chairman,  who  in  the  very  nature  of  the  case 
must  handle  its  laboring  oar.  It  is  true,  however,  that  in 
this  instance  Dr.  Bliss  was  a  ready,  able  and  efficient  asso- 
ciate, without  whose  aid  in  many  cases  the  chairman  of  the 
committee  would  have  found  himself  taxed  even  beyond 
his  knowledge  and  ability. 

No  sanitary  organ  has  been  created  in  any  part  of  the 
country  composed  of  material  as  furnished  in  its  members, 
prepared  to  enter  more  wisely,  courageously  and  enthusias- 
tically upon  its  duties  than  this  one.  No  such  organ  ever 
accomplished  more  far-reaching  arid  important  results  for 
any  community  than  this  one  for  the  national  capital  and 
the  District.  Though  the  three  physicians  were  gentlemen 
in  regular  practice,  each  with  a  large  and  rich  patronage,  no 
business  duty  or  interest  was  ever  permitted  to  interfere 
with  their  obligations  as  members  of  the  Board  to  the  public. 
Nor  was  any  private  engagement  of  Mr.  Marbury,  though 
he  was  an  active,  laborious  merchant,  ever  permitted  to 
disturb  his  duties  in  that  respect.  And  though  Mr.  Lang- 
ston  was  engaged  in  professional  duties  which  commanded 
his  constant  attention  and  efforts,  he  never  neglected  the 
sanitary  interest  of  the  community.  Meetings  of  the 
Board  were  held  regularly  once,  at  least,  every  week ;  when 
necessary,  as  was  often  the  case  in  times  of  epidemics, 
daily.  It  is  a  fact,  too,  that  no  important  subject  was  ever 
presented  or  considered  by  the  Board  when  the  learning, 
judgment  and  vote  of  each  member,  pro  or  con,  were  not 
taxed  and  given.  Indeed,  the  members  of  the  Board 
prided  themselves  upon  such  persistent  purpose  to  consider 
thoroughly  every  proposition  of  business  commanding  their 
attention,  that  they  established  public  meetings  where  free 
and  open  debate  was  cultivated,  and  where  untrammelled 
individual  vote  was  cast.  The  proceedings  of  such  meet- 
ings  were  published  regularly,  as  reported  by  the  representa- 
tives of  the  press  in  the  daily  papers  of  the  capital.  Often 


324       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

extended  addresses  involving  elaborate  statement  of  facts 
and  figures  as  presented  by  different  members  taking  part 
in  the  debates,  were  published.  The  proceedings  of  the 
Board  were  always  public,  therefore,  and  conducted  in  such 
way  as  to  challenge  comment  or  criticism. 

So  far  as  the  law  was  concerned,  whether  its  enforcement 
respected  the  condemnation  and  abatement  of  those  things 
which  were  declared  public  nuisances  injurious  to  the  gen- 
eral health  ;  or  the  condemnation  of  products,  vegetable, 
animal  or  marine,  unfit  for  use ;  or  the  collection  and 
removal  of  offals,  including  the  collection  and  removal  of 
dead  animals ;  or  the  prevention  of  domestic  animals  from 
running  at  large  within  the  limits  of  Washington  and 
Georgetown,  care  was  had,  while  guarding  scrupulously  and 
protecting  the  rights  of  all  concerned,  to  maintain  its  pro- 
visions so  as  to  secure  the  highest  real  good  of  the  com- 
munity. It  is  matter  of  congratulation  to  be  able  to  record 
the  fact  that  so  wisely  and  efficiently  was  every  step  taken 
in  such  behalf,  that  in  no  single  case  judicially  investigated 
on  charge  made  against  the  health  officer  of  the  Board 
or  any  other  subordinate,  did  the  Board  ever  leave  such 
investigation  with  damage  awarded  against  it,  its  officer  or 
agent,  or  with  detriment  to  the  public. 

It  is  just  to  state  here  that  through  the  kindness  and  con- 
siderate action  of  the  Board  Mr.  Langston  was  given  in  his 
assistant  attorney,  Mr.  Henry  D.  Beam,  such  conscientious 
devotion  to  duty,  ability  and  skill,  that  he  was  always 
strongly,  firmly  and  successfully  supported  in  the  courts, 
whatever  the  question  involved  in  any  trial  had  against  any 
exercise  of  apparently  undue  authority  or  power  by  the 
Board  of  Health.  And  Mr.  Langston  has  never  seen  the 
time  when  he  was  not  fully  sensible  of  the  great  service 
rendered  by  his  associate,  often  under  circumstances  which 
required  tact,  learning  and  persistent  effort. 

Within  less  than  two  years  after  its  organization  it  was 
deemed  wise  by  the  Board  of  Health  to  appoint  a  health 
officer,  not  one  of  its  members,  who  should  give  his  entire 
time  to  the  superintendence  and  direction  of  the  service. 


APPOINTED  A  MEMBER  OF  THE  BOARD  OF  HEALTH.  325 

Accordingly,  after  considerable  effort  to  secure  an  efficient 
appointee  to  that  place,  Dr.  P.  T.  Keene  of  New  York 
city  was  selected  for  the  position.  He  was  found  to  be 
not  only  a  gentleman  of  rare  professional  culture,  with 
large  knowledge  of  sanitary  affairs,  but  an  officer  of  great 
wisdom,  energy  and  efficiency.  Besides,  he  soon  won  as 
well  the  respect  and  confidence  of  the  members  of  the 
Board  as  the  favor  and  fidelity  of  the  large  number  of 
inspectors  and  subordinates  directed  and  controlled  by 
him  in  obedience  to  the  rules  and  regulations  made  for 
that  purpose.  During  his  entire  association  with  this  officer, 
with  whom  he  was  brought  in  daily  official  intercourse,  Mr. 
Langston  never  found  him  at  fault  in  apprehension  of  any 
law  or  regulation  to  be  enforced  through  his  agency  ;  nor 
in  want  of  devotion  and  sincerity  of  purpose  to  execute.it 
up  to  the  full  measure  intended  to  promote  the  general 
welfare.  Such  was  his  study  of  all  the  rules  and  regula- 
tions of  the  Board  as  well  as  the  organic  law,  that  he  soon 
became  intelligent  as  to  his  whole  duty,  and  so  fully  forti- 
fied for  any  attempt  made  to  meet  and  maintain  it.  It  is 
apparent  that  the  execution  of  the  law  in  its  wisest  and 
best  manner  must  have  depended,  at  last,  largely  upon  this 
officer,  and  Mr.  Langston  is  only  too  glad  to  bear  this 
testimony  to  one  whose  friendship  and  whose  assistance  he 
has  always  valued. 

A  testimony  which  the  excellent  president  of  the  Board 
of  Health,  Dr.  C.  C.  Cox,  bore  to  the  labors  and  efficiency 
of  the  Committee  on  Ordinances  in  his  annual  report  for 
the  year  1873,  is  presented  here  with  no  little  satisfaction. 
It  reads  as  follows  : 

"  The  report  of  the  Committee  on  Ordinances  presents  a  faithful  exhibit  of 
the  enactments,  regulations  and  blanks  adopted  by  the  board  during  the  past 
year.  These  relate  to  the  running  at  large  of  domestic  animals  in  the  cities  of 
Washington  and  Georgetown;  foul  privies  and  water-closets ;  the  removal  of 
dead  animals  ;  the  prevention  of  the  spread  of  small  pox  and  other  epidemic, 
infectious  and  contagious  diseases;  disposition  of  garbage;  the  drainage  of 
lots,  etc.,  etc.  The  ordinances,  prepared  with  great  care  by  J.  M.  Langston, 
Esq.,  the  distinguished  chairman  of  the  committee,  will  be  found  to  embrace 
provisions  in  connection  with  a  large  variety  of  sanitary  subjects.  The  best 


326       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

evidence  of  the  manner  in  which  this  duty  has  been  performed  is  found  in  the 
fact  that,  although  so  frequently  tested  in  the  courts,  the  ordinances,  rules  and 
regulations  have  been  invariably  sustained." 

An  agreeable  experience  connected  with  Mr.  Langston's 
membership  of  the  Board  of  Health  and  sanitary  service,  was 
found  in  an  extended  inspection  tour,  embracing  several  of 
the  largest  cities  of  the  country,  to  gain  a  more  comprehen- 
sive and  accurate  understanding  of  the  sanitary  law,  the 
regulations,  the  service  and  its  efficiency,  in  those  cities. 
The  Committee  on  Ordinances  composed  the  commission 
sent  on  that  errand  ;  and  such  cities  as  Baltimore,  Phila- 
delphia, New  York  and  Boston  were  those  which  were  to  be 
visited,  and  whose  service  was  to  be  carefully  and  thoroughly 
studied  in  all  its  branches  and  operations,  with  reference  to 
full  and  complete  report  of  the  results  thereof  to  the  Board. 
This  mission  was  undertaken  by  that  committee,  and  Dr. 
Bliss  and  Mr.  Langston  went  abroad  upon  an  errand  which 
not  only  proved  serviceable  to  each  of  them  as  sanitarians, 
but  in  large  measure  profitable  to  the  Board  itself,  as  the 
report  which  they  made  upon  the  completion  of  their 
inspections  will  show.  But  this  tour  was  marked  by  many 
very  amusing  and  agreeable  incidents.  One  connected  with 
their  visit  and  experiences  in  Boston  is  especially  worthy  of 
note.  It  is  due  both  gentlemen  that  it  be  stated  here  that 
Dr.  Bliss  and  Mr.  Langston  were  friends  in  the  largest,  best 
possible  sense  ;  and  that  understanding  each  other  exactly 
and  appreciating  always  each  other's  sympathies  and  feelings 
as  well  as  each  other's  temper  and  toleration  even  of  jest, 
though  curious  and  unexpected  often,  they  were  always 
free  and  natural  in  their  conduct  when  together.  Hence, 
as  both  were  of  decidedly  marked  complexions — Dr.  Bliss 
dark,  for  a  white  man,  and  Mr.  Langston  light,  for  a  colored 
one — they  often  joked  with  each  other  as  to  which  one  con- 
stituted the  negro  member  of  the  Board  of  Health.  And 
it  was  not  infrequently  the  case  that  such  jokes  on  this  sub- 
ject passed  between  them  as  to  stir  the  amusing  and  ridicu- 
lous in  human  nature  to  its  very  depth. 

In  order  to  full  appreciation  of  the  incident  about  to  be 


APPOINTED  A  MEMBER  OF  THE  BOARD  OF  HEALTH.   327 

t;'ivcn,  it  is  necessary  to  know  who  and  what  Dr.  Bliss  was. 
Physically  a  man  of  the  handsomest  possible  endowment, 
possessing  a  well-formed  person  from  head  to  foot  and  a  face 
and  head  expressive  of  the  largest  native  intelligence,  his 
bearing  was  that  of  one  conscious  of  his  power  and  capability. 
He  did  not  possess  by  reason  of  the  nobility  of  his  nature  a 
single  envious  or  jealous  feeling.  And  an  Abolitionist  as 
he  was  in  sentiment,  in  favor  of  fair  and  equal  treatment  of 
the  colored  man  as  respects  every  right,  privilege  and  oppor- 
tunity, his  feelings  and  judgment  were  the  result  more  of 
the  promptings  of  his  own  being  than  the  deductions  and 
consequences  of  reading,  thought,  or  abstract  opinion. 
Hence  often  Mr.  Langston  told  hinv  that  there  was  no 
special  virtue  to  be  ascribed  to  him  because  of  his  ultra  senti- 
ments in  favor  of  freedom  and  equal  rights.  He  told  him 
that  he  was  constitutionally  right  on  all  such  subjects — that 
the  Lord  had  made  him  so.  But,  as  intimated  already,  he 
was  in  his  complexion  very  dark  ;  quite  as  much  as  if  he  had 
in  his  composition  and  blood  a  large  infusion  of  the  Indian. 
He  was  a  person  of  remarkable  accomplishment  in  his  pro- 
fession ;  a  sanitarian  of  large  various  reading,  extensive  obser- 
vation and  unusual  experience.  His  protracted  services  as 
a  surgeon  of  the  army,  handling  in  the  various  hospitals 
thousands  of  patients  brought  under  his  management  and 
control,  in  connection  with  whose  treatment  and  care  it  was 
necessary  to  apply  all  the  principles  of  science  and  the  teach- 
ings of  medico-sanitary  art,  furnished  him  opportunity  for 
knowledge  and  improvement  which  developed  in  him  a  love 
of  sanitary  service,  rendering  him  a  veritable  enthusiast  in 
that  respect.  He  allowed  no  opportunity  furnishing  ad- 
dition to  his  stock  of  information  of  such  character  to  pass 
unimproved,  and  no  subject  of  moment  in  such  behalf  was 
treated  by  him  as  of  small  and  useless  consideration.  . 

In  the  department  of  vital  statistics,  it  is  probably  true 
that  this  country  has  not  furnished  a  person  more  deeply 
read  or  more  entirely  scientific.  He  cultivated  the  litera- 
ture of  that  subject  most  diligently,  and  constantly  added 
to  improvement  upon  it  as  discussed  even  in  standard 


328       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

works,  by  his  own  various  and  accurate  thought  and  obser- 
vation. Besides,  he  was  fruitful  in  original  thought  and 
study  upon  all  matters  of  sanitation,  often  displaying  in 
private  conversation  with  his  associates,  or  public  address 
before  the  Board,  enthusiasm  and  eloquence  in  the  presen- 
tation, exposition  and  defence  of  any  views,  theory  or  be- 
lief which  he  might  entertain  upon  the  subject.  He  was, 
too,  always  an  agreeable  companion  and  gentleman  ;  full  of 
kindly  feeling ;  indulgent  to  his  friends,  and  fond  in  unusual 
measure  of  any  dignified  proper  pleasantry.  He  always 
appeared  to  great  advantage  in  society,  winning  by  his  ap- 
pearance and  bearing,  even  when  in  silence,  the  attention 
and  respect  of  any  who  might  be  near  him. 

Dr.  Bliss  and  Mr.  Langston  had  been  in  close  communi- 
cation with  the  Board  of  Health  of  Boston,  called  together 
for  such  purpose,  all  the  members  being  present,  for  quite 
two  hours,  asking  questions  as  to  the  organization  and  con- 
duct of  the  sanitary  service  of  that  city  in  its  various 
branches.  Careful,  considerate,  elaborate  answers  had  been 
made  thereto,  with  full  and  exact  explanations  as  to  the 
rules  and  regulations  governing  the  service,  embracing  all 
blanks  and  the  methods  of  enforcement  with  the  checks 
and  balances  held  upon  its  employes  to  secure  the  largest 
and  most  profitable  results  to  the  community.  The  promise 
had  just  been  made  to  the  members  of  the  Washington 
Board  of  Health  that  at  an  early  hour  the  next  day  they 
should  be  taken  in  carriages  about  the  city  and  by  boat  to 
the  dumping  grounds  for  offals,  to  witness  the  practical  op- 
eration and  results  of  the  service.  At  this  point  there  came 
a  lull  in  the  conversation  upon  sanitary  matters  proper,  and 
the  president  of  the  Boston  Board  of  Health,  Mr.  Alonzo  W. 
Boardman,  inquired  as  to  the  personnel  of  the  Board  of 
Health  of  the  District  of  Columbia  and  the  style  of  its  com- 
position. Answers  were  made  to  his  questions  with  con- 
siderable display  of  satisfaction  by  Mr.  Langston  as  he 
spoke  of  the  three  learned  doctors,  a  business  man  of  high 
name  and  broad  influence,  and  a  lawyer,  as  constituting  its 
membership.  It  came  very  naturally  under  the  circum- 


APPOINTED  A  MEMBER  OF  THE  BOARD  OF  HEALTH.  329 

stances  for  Mr.  Boardman,  a  Boston  man,  to  suggest  by 
way  of  inquiry,  "  I  believe  you  have  a  colored  member  of 
your  Board."  To  this  Mr.  Langston  replied,  "Yes,  we 
have.  He  is  a  man  of  great  ability.  He  is  very  learned, 
and  his  accomplishments  are  comprehensive  and  various. 
He  occupies  deservedly  high  place  in  his  profession,  for  he 
is  complete  master  of  everything  pertaining  to  it.  Of 
rare  scholarly  attainments,  he  is  a  sanitarian  that  it  would 
be  quite  difficult  to  match  anywhere  in  our  country.  And 
it  is  not  certain  that  he  has  an  equal  in  Europe.  He  is  an 
eloquent  man,  and  submits  no  measure  as  he  advocates  no 
proposition,  without  display  of  learning,  eloquence  and 
power.  He  is  held  in  the  very  highest  esteem  by  his  fellow 
members  of  our  Board,  and  heard  by  them  as  a  sort  of  sani- 
tary oracle." 

While  Mr.  Langston  was  engaged  in  this  apparently  very 
remarkable  statement  about  the  colored  member  of  the 
Board  of  Health  of  the  District  of  Columbia,  as  Dr.  Bliss 
knew  him,  his  own  dark  face  bore  in  livid  colors  the  anxiety 
which  moved  his  soul  and  excited  his  seemingly  outraged 
sense  of  propriety,  as  the  questions  stood  pictured  in  his 
eyes  and  trembling  on  his  lips,  "  What  does  Langston 
mean?  What  is  he  going  to  say?  Is  he  going  to  make  a 
fool  of  himself  here  ?"  when  Mr.  Langston  turning,  with 
his  eyes  full  on  this  matchless  man — the  thoughtful,  expert 
member,  indeed,  of  the  Board  of  Health  of  the  District  of 
Columbia,  worthy  of  all  that  had  been  said  of  him — address- 
ing Mr.  Boardman,  said,  "  Mr.  President,  our  colored  mem- 
ber is  here  ;  and  I  have  now  the  honor  to  present  to  you  my 
distinguished  friend,  Dr.  D.  W.  Bliss!"  Thereupon,  Dr. 
Bliss,  relieved  by  the  turn  given  to  this  procedure,  said, 
"  Gentlemen,  it  is  true,  we  have  a  colored  member;  and  it  is 
true  that  he  is  here.  But  it  has  not  yet  been  determined 
whether  my  friend  Langston,  or  myself,  is  that  person.  I 
am  darker  than  he  ;  but  his  hair  curls  more  than  mine." 
Here  a  general  laugh  occurred,  and  the  conference  closing 
in  cheerful  pleasant  feeling,  all  went  to  the  restaurant  for 
something  both  to  eat  and  to  drink,  after  Boston's  generous 


330       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

method  and  style.  The  actual  colored  member  of  the  Wash- 
ington Board  was,  thereafter,  as  well  as  before,  treated  by 
all  concerned  in  liberal,  hospitable  manner. 

Mr.  Langston  was  treated,  always,  in  kindly,  respectful 
manner  by  his  associates  in  the  sanitary  service  of  the  Dis- 
trict. He  was  given  prominence  at  all  great  gatherings  con- 
vened by  the  Board  for  national  or  local  purposes  having  in 
view  the  advancement  and  promotion  of  the  service  which 
it  controlled.  Upon  all  banqueting  occasions,  even  where 
distinquished  and  foremost  sanitarians  even  from  the  South 
were  present  and  took  conspicuous  places  at  the  tables  and 
prominent  part  in  the  exercises,  his  presence  and  his  influence 
were  noted  and  emphasized  ordinarily  by  the  respectful,  and 
often  flattering  mention  of  him  and  his  labors  by  the  presi- 
dent of  the  Board.  It  was  not  however  until  he  had  been 
called  to  a  foreign  position  in  the  national  diplomatic  ser- 
vice, in  1877,  and  tendering  his  resignation,  had  come  to 
take  his  leave  of  his  associates  in  the  service,  that  the  Board 
expressing  its  opinion  and  estimate  of  him  and  his  service, 
formulated  and  adopted  by  unanimous  vote  the  following 
complimentary  resolutions  as  its  most  exalted  and  appreci- 
ative testimonial  of  his  worth  : 


DISTRICT  OF  COLUMBIA,  BOARD  OF  HEALTH. 
Washington,  Oct.  2,  1877. 

"  The  following  resolutions  presented  by  Dr.  C.  C.  Cox  at  the  meeting  of 
the  Board  held  this  evening  were  unanimously  adopted :  Resolved,  That  in 
accepting  the  resignation  of  Professor  J.  M.  Langston  as  member  and  attorney 
of  the  Board  of  Health,  it  is  both  a  privilege  and  pleasure  to  express,  as  we  do, 
our  appreciation  of  his  eminent  personal  worth,  his  rare  intellectual  endowment, 
his  valuable  services  in  the  department  of  public  hygiene,  and  especially  his 
useful  and  unremitting  labors  in  promoting  the  sanitary  interest  of  this  District. 

"  Resolved  :  That  in  his  long  association  with  this  Board,  its  members  have 
ever  found  in  him  an  agreeable  gentleman,  a  true  friend,  and  a  faithful 
collaborator  in  the  cause  of  public  health. 

"  Resolved :  That  while  sensible  of  the  personal  and  public  loss  sustained  by 
us  in  the  severance  of  our  friend  and  colleague  from  the  arduous  position  with 
which  he  has  been  so  long  and  laboriously  associated,  we  congratulate  the 
Government  upon  securing  for  a  distinguished  diplomatic  relation  abroad  a 
gentleman  so  eminently  qualified  to  do  honor  to  his  country  in  the  office  to 
which  he  has  been  assigned. 


APPOINTED  A  MEMBER  or  THE  BOARD  OF  HEALTH.   331 

"  Resolved  :  That  Professor  Langston  be  furnished  by  the  secretary  with  a 
copy  of  these  resolutions,  suitably  engrossed,  and  signed  by  the  officers  of  the 
board." 


These  resolutions,  beautifully  and  elaborately  engrossed, 
duly  signed  by  the  officers  of  the  Board  and  appropriately 
framed,  were  sent  on  the  nineteenth  day  of  October,  1877,  to 
Mr.  Langston,  and  can  be  seen  hanging  upon  the  walls  of  his 
house  at  Hillside  Cottage,  among  other  valuable  documents 
and  pictures  which  are  prized  and  preserved  by  him  as  of 
rare  and  sacred  worth. 

In  addition  to  this  expression  of  personal  esteem  and  offi- 
cial estimate,  the  Board  increased  Mr.  Langston's  obligation 
to  it  by  a  dinner  and  reception  given  him  upon  his  retirement. 
On  this  occasion  many  pleasant  and  flattering  things  were  said 
of  him  and  his  services  by  the  members  of  the  Board  and 
others  present  interested  in  their  work,  which  are  remem- 
bered with  feelings  of  special  obligation  and  thankfulness. 

More  than  this,  the  health  officer  and  the  subordinate  em- 
ployes of  the  Board  would  not  allow  Mr.  Langston,  whose 
care,  consideration  and  efforts  as  the  attorney  of  the  Board 
had  been  constantly  exercised  in  their  behalf,  and  without 
the  least  detriment  to  any  one  of  them,  leave  them  without 
a  cordial,  honorable  manifestation  of  their  appreciation  of 
him  and  his  labors,  and  their  regret  that  they  could  no  longer 
enjoy  the  association  and  protection  of  their  friend  and 
officer.  Hence,  they  prepared  and  presented  to  him,  at  the 
rooms  of  the  Board  of  Health,  on  the  adjournment  of  the 
last  meeting  which  he  attended,  a  formal  address,  expressive 
of  their  feelings  and  kind  wishes,  accompanying  the  same 
with  the  gift  of  a  most  rare,  beautiful  and  valuable  diplo- 
matic ring,  upon  which  in  richest  precious  stones  are  rep- 
resented the  gods  of  Wisdom  and  War,  Minerva  and  Mars. 
The  present,  typical  and  emblematical  of  the  service  upon 
which  he  was  about  to  enter,  was  especially  significant  and 
appropriate.  The  address  presented  through  Dr.  P.  T. 
Keene,  the  health  officer,  chaste  and  elegant  in  sentiment 
and  diction,  reads  as  follows  : 


332        FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

"  PROFESSOR  LANGSTON  : 

"  Six  years  and  more,  we  the  employes  of  the  Board  of  Health  of  the 
District  of  Columbia,  have  enjoyed  your  official  relationship.  Remembering 
with  pleasure  and  pride  mutual  labors  and  successes  in  a  common  cause,  and 
realizing  that  our  pathways  are  now  diverging,  we  earnestly  desire  that  you 
accept  at  our  hands  and  keep  always  with  you,  a  pledge  of  the  respect  and 
esteem  we  shall  cherish  for  you  wherever  may  be  your  future  home,  whatever 
your  field  of  labor. 

"  You  go,  now,  the  chosen,  honored  representative  of  the  United  States  Gov- 
ernment, upon  one  of  her  most  important  foreign  missions.  In  the  midst  of 
the  dignity  and  applause  which  will  attend  your  diplomatic  triumph,  and  in  all 
the  future  years  they  unfold  before  you,  the  victories,  the  honors,  the  rewards — 
yes!  (and  they  needs  must  come)  the  disappointments,  griefs  and  sacrifices  of 
life — we  trust  this  simple  golden  circlet  will  constantly  remind  you  of  our  part- 
ing prayer;  that  the  blessings  of  health  and  happiness  and  Heaven's  gracious 
approbation  may  attend  your  steps,  even  to  the  gates  of  eternity,  whose  emblem, 
with  your  permission,  we  now  place  upon  your  finger,  and  reluctantly  say,  Our 
excellent  friend,  good-bye  !  " 

The  following  day,  the  daily  papers  of  the  city  of  Wash- 
ington made  notice  of  the  proceedings  mentioned  in  the 
following  manner,  with  full  publication  of  the  address  and 
minute  description  of  the  ring  : 

"  Last  evening  upon  adjournment  of  the  Board  of  Health, 
the  president  stated  that  the  employes  of  the  Board  had  an 
affair  of  their  own  on  hand  which  they  invited  the  members 
to  stay  and  witness.  He  moved  that  the  council  room  of 
the  Board  be  placed  at  their  disposal.  This  being  done 
Mr.  D.  S.  Jones,  the  chief  clerk,  rose  and  stated  that  the 
employes  desired  to  present  to  Professor  Langston,  who 
was  present,  a  parting  gift,  a  token  of  their  esteem  and 
regard.  He  introduced  Dr.  P.  T.  Keene,  the  health 
officer,  who  he  said  had  been  selected  by  the  employes  to 
make  the  presentation."  Then  followed  the  address,  as 
already  presented,  "which  visibly  affected  the  professor," 
as  stated  in  the  papers,  "  who  made  a  brief  feeling  reply." 
Of  the  gift  the  papers  gave  this  account:  "The  present 
consists  of  a  handsome  gold  ring  with  very  rare  cameo 
settings,  it  being  a  double  side  face  bust  of  '  Mars  and 
Minerva,'  the  stone  being  seemingly  of  two  layers,  the 
under,  on  which  the  face  of  Minerva  is  carved,  being  p  are 
white,  while  the  upper,  bearing  the  head  of  Mars,  is  a  mag- 


APPOINTED  A  MEMBER  OF  THE  BOARD  OF  HEALTH.  333 

nificent  lava  color.  It  was  purchased  from  Messrs.  Gait  & 
Bro.  and  bears  the  inscription,  'J.  M.  Langston,  from 
employes,  Board  of  Health,  D.  C.' " 

This  ring,  worn  as  directed  on  every  great  diplomatic  oc- 
casion during  his  years  of  service  in  that  behalf,  has  always 
been  treasured  as  a  thing  which  possesses  even  more  than 
magical  power.  It  has  seemed  to  be  from  the  hour  of  its 
presentation  the  very  talisman  of  Mr.  Langston's  good  for- 
tune. As  a  memento  of  the  kind  sentiments  which  its 
donors  entertained  for  him  it  is  invaluable. 

It  is  a  matter  of  real  satisfaction  to  Mr.  Langston  that 
after  he  had  left  the  Board  of  Health,  Congress,  upon  care- 
ful consideration  of  the  subject,  enacted  the  ordinances, 
rules  and  regulations  which  he  had  drawn  and  presented 
as  stated,  and  which  the  Board  had  adopted  and  published 
as  regulating  its  sanitary  service,  into  a  formal  sanitary  code, 
as  the  law  applicable  to  the  District  of  Columbia,  and  to  be 
enforced  therein.  That  law  is  still  in  existence  and  is  en- 
forced, though  the  Board  of  Health  as  such  has  been  abol- 
ished, through  a  health  officer  and  his  inspectors  and  sub- 
ordinates. Another  high  honor  paid  to  Mr.  Langston  and 
the  Committee  on  Ordinances  even  before  he  left  the  Board, 
consisted  in  the  fact  that  a  Commission  of  the  Japan- 
ese government  sent  abroad  in  search  of  a  sanitary  code 
of  laws  to  be  used  in  Japan,  after  visiting  the  large  cities 
of  other  countries  and  several  of  the  United  States,  chose 
as  most  applicable  to  their  condition  and  as  embodying  the 
principles  of  law  which  might  be  and  which  ought  to  be 
enforced  in  conservation  and  promotion  of  the  public  health, 
the  ordinances,  rules  and  regulations  of  the  Board  of  Health 
of  the  District  of  Columbia  ;  and  the  same  were  adopted 
as  the  legal  provisions  accepted  for  that  purpose  by  that 
government. 

While  it  is  true  that  during  the  entire  time  that  Mr.  Lang- 
ston was  connected  with  Howard  University  as  professor 
and  vice  and  acting-president,  he  was  an  active  and  laborious 
member  of  the  Board  of  Health,  as  stated,  he  allowed 
no  clash  in  his  duties  to  prevent  his  prompt  and  efficient 


334       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

discharge  of  them  all.  And  if  he  found  special  pleasure 
in  his  labors  connected  with  the  professional  education  of 
the  colored  youth  of  the  country,  he  did  not  value  less  the 
pleasant  and  profitable  associations  had  with  the  members 
of  the  Board  of  Health,  offering  opportunities  such  as  could 
not  be  otherwise  found  for  improvement  in  all  those  mat- 
ters of  science  which  pertain  to  public  hygiene. 

Of  the  five  members  of  the  Board  of  Health  as  originally 
constitued,  Dr.  Verdi  and  Mr.  John  Marbury,  Jr.  as  well  as 
Mr.  Langston  are  still  alive  and  active  in  business.  Drs. 
Cox  and  Bliss,  however,  after  long  service  in  their  profes- 
sion and  great  usefulness  to  the  community,  like  many  to 
whom  they  administered  so  tenderly  and  sympathetically, 
passed  some  years  ago  to  their  long  sleep  and  silent  home. 
Their  professional  names  and  influence  retained  their 
brightness  and  power  to  the  close  of  their  lives ;  indeed, 
each  won  additional  and  increasing  honors  in  the  higher 
and  more  exalted  walks  of  scientific,  medical  and  political 
endeavor  in  the  very  last  days  of  his  career.  Dr.  Cox 
gave  the  government  his  final  efforts,  as  appointed  to  a 
high  and  honorable  position  in  its  foreign  service  ;  while 
Dr.  Bliss,  as  the  chief  surgeon  in  the  celebrated  case  of 
the  late  President  Garfield,  won  by  his  skillful  and  devoted 
care  of  his  distinguished  patient  deserved  fame  and  honor. 


CHAPTER  XXII. 

THREE    GREAT     ENTERPRISES      WHICH      COMMANDED      HIS 
SPECIAL  ATTENTION. 

CHARLOTTE  SCOTT,  a  freed  woman  from  Virginia,  de- 
serves the  credit  of  having  proposed  the  erection  of  a  mon- 
ument in  honor  of  Abraham  Lincoln  as  the  emancipator  of 
the  American  slave.  She  resided  at  service  in  Marietta, 
Ohio,  at  the  time  of  his  assassination,  and  so  soon  as  she 
heard  of  it,  on  the  I5th  of  April,  1865,  she  brought  five 
dollars,  the  first  money  she  had  earned  in  freedom,  and  giv- 
ing it  to  her  employer,  asked  him  to  communicate  her 
proposition  to  some  person  whose  influence  and  action 
might  result  in  the  accomplishment  of  that  important  de- 
sign. The  subject  was  at  once  brought  with  the  gift,  the 
first  contribution  made  to  the  enterprise,  to  the  attention 
of  Mr.  James  E.  Yeatman  and  the  Western  Sanitary  Com- 
mission of  St.  Louis,  Missouri.  Placed  in  these  hands,  the 
work  in  that  behalf  assumed  form  and  direction  of  such 
character  as  to  give  it  promise  of  early  success.  Through 
Mr.  Yeatman  and  the  commission,  Mr.  Langston  became 
interested  in  it,  and  as  requested  by  them,  brought  the  sub- 
ject to  the  attention  and  patronage  of  the  freed  people  of 
the  South  as  he  travelled  among  them,  especially  to  the 
consideration  of  any  colored  troops  still  retained  in  the 
United  States  service.  The  soldiers  were  easily  moved  by 
appeals  made  to  them  and  gave  freely  and  liberally.  All 
funds  were  sent  directly  to  Mr.  Yeatman,  without  the  least 

335 


336       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

deduction  of  any  sort  or  for  any  purpose.  By  reason  of  the 
efficient  and  liberal  management  of  the  commission,  the 
whole  sum  necessary  to  provide  the  work  of  art  suited  to 
the  purpose,  and  to  pay  all  expenses  found  due,  was  soon 
raised,  and  as  early  as  the  fourteenth  day  of  April,  1876, 
the  monument,  completed  in  every  particular,  was  ready  for 
unveiling. 

The  whole  country  finally  seemed  interested  in  this  enter- 
prise, and  when  Mr.  Yeatman  wrote  Mr.  Langston,  direct- 
ing him  to  make  full  arrangements  for  the  unveiling 
exercises,  the  latter  did  not  find  it  difficult  to  secure  even 
official  and  government  aid  to  further  in  the  highest  and 
most  important  way  that  purpose.  The  leading  officials  of 
the  municipal  administration  of  the  District  and  the  mem- 
bers of  the  general  government,  including  its  executive, 
judicial  and  legislative  departments,  as  well  as  the  citizens 
generally  of  the  national  capital  and  many  from  various 
sections  of  the  country,  gave  evidence  in  large  and  liberal 
measure  of  their  deep  interest  in  the  work.  In  every  way 
contribution  was  made  by  them  in  generous  and  consider- 
ate action  to  make  the  occasion  one  worthy  of  the  man  and 
the  cause  which  were  to  be  honored  in  the  dignified  offering 
of  an  emancipated  race.  Congress  ordered  that  the  day 
appointed  for  the  unveiling  should  be,  so  far  as  the  capital 
was  concerned,  a  national  holiday,  and  adjourned  itself  to 
attend  in  a  body  the  exercises  ;  the  Supreme  Court,  moved 
by  the  same  feelings,  also  adjourned  and  attended,  the  chief 
justice  and  his  associates  all  being  present,  while  President 
Grant  and  all  the  members  of  the  Cabinet  gave,  in  their 
presence,  the  highest  possible  testimony  of  their  apprecia- 
tion of  the  great  name  and  illustrious  example  of  the 
immortal  Lincoln,  whose  virtues  endeared  him  as  well  to 
every  white  as  every  black  man — for  he  was  the  benefactor 
of  all.  Such  being  the  case,  it  was  not  strange  that  an 
audience,  perhaps  the  largest  and  most  remarkable  that  had 
ever  assembled  in  this  or  any  other  country  on  like  occasion, 
was  brought  together.  The  vast  concourse  numbering  over 
a  hundred  thousand  persons,  composed  of  distinguished 


THREE  GREAT  ENTERPRISES.  337 

officers,  civil  and  military,  of  every  grade  and  character 
known  to  the  government,  senators,  representatives,  with 
the  great  body  of  the  employes  of  the  government  and  a 
multitude  of  the  people,  honored  the  occasion  with  a  pres- 
ence, attention  and  orderly  conduct  calculated  to  give  the 
largest  possible  tclat  to  the  proceedings. 

It  had  been  intended  and  arranged  that  Mr.  Langston, 
who  had  been  made  the  presiding  officer  of  the  occasion, 
should  not  only  receive  the  work  in  the  name  of  the  eman- 
cipated classes,  as  presented  by  Mr.  James  E.  Yeatman 
from  the  Western  Sanitary  Commission,  but  that  he  should 
unveil  the  monument  to  the  gaze  of  the  assembled  throng. 
However,  Mr.  Langston,  at  the  last  moment,  finding  Presi- 
dent Grant  seated  upon  his  right  on  the  great  platform 
erected  for  the  occasion,  and  moved  by  a  deep  sense  of  the 
fitness  of  such  action,  requested  him  to  manipulate  the  cord 
which  drawn  never  so  slightly  would  cause  the  fall  of  the 
drapery  which  covered  and  concealed  the  monument.  On 
being  introduced,  with  suitable  apology  made  by  the  pre- 
siding officer,  President  Grant  by  touching  the  cord  as  indi- 
cated, unveiled  the  monument,  consisting  of  a  bronze  group 
of  figures  of  colossal  size,  which  at  once  produced  a  grand 
and  enthusiastic  outburst  of  appreciation  and  applause.  The 
roar  of  cannon,  the  strains  of  martial  music,  the  shouts,  the 
huzzas  and  cheers  of  the  people,  discovered  the  joy  and 
gladness  with  which  they  would  honor  the  emancipator  of  the 
continent.  The  popular  demonstrations  of  approbation  con- 
tinued repeating  themselves  for  many  minutes,  and  in  their 
participation  there  seemed  to  be  rto  difference  between  the 
most  exalted  and  the  humblest  member  of  the  great  gather- 
ing. All  rejoiced  together  in  the  wildest,  most  unmeasured 
enthusiasm. 

The  monument,  as  described,  stands  on  a  granite  pedes- 
tal ten  feet  high.  The  martyred  president,  in  bronze,  stands 
beside  a  monolith  upon  which  is  a  bust  of  Washington,  in 
bas  relief.  In  his  right  hand  he  holds  the  Proclamation, 
while  his  left  is  stretched  over  a  slave  upon  whom  his  eyes 
are  bent,  who  is  just  rising,  and  from  whose  limbs  the 


338       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

shackles  have  just  burst.  The  figure  of  the  slave  is  that  of 
a  man  worn  by  toil,  with  muscles  hardened  and  rigid.  He 
is  represented  as  just  rising  from  the  earth,  while  his  face  is 
lighted  with  joy  as  he  anticipates  the  full  manhood  of  free- 
dom. Upon  the  base  of  the  monument  is  cut  the  word 
"  Emancipation." 

As  stated,  the  figures  are  colossal,  and  the  effect  impress- 
ive. On  the  front,  in  bronze  letters  one  finds  the  follow- 
ing inscription : 

"FREEDOM'S  MEMORIAL. 

"In  grateful  memory  of  ABRAHAM  LINCOLN,  this  mounment  was  erected 
by  the  Western  Sanitary  Commission  of  St.  Louis,  Mo.,  with  funds  contrib- 
uted solely  by  emancipated  citizens  of  the  United  States,  declared  free  by  his 
proclamation  January  i,  A.  D.  1863. 

"  The  first  contribution  of  five  dollars  was  made  by  Charlotte  Scott,  a  freed 
woman  of  Virginia,  being  her  first  earnings  in  freedom  and  consecrated  by  her 
suggestion  and  request,  on  the  day  she  heard  of  President  Lincoln's  death,  to 
build  a  monument  to  his  memory." 

On  the  reverse  side  is  the  following  : 

"  And  upon  this  act,  sincerely  believed  to  be  an  act  of  justice  warranted  by 
the  Constitution,  upon  military  necessity,  I  invoke  the  considerate  judgment  of 
mankind  and  the  gracious  favor  of  Almighty  God." 

In  closing  his  address  made  in  connection  with  the 
delivery  of  the  monument  Mr.  Yeatman  employed  the  fol- 
lowing statements: 

"  The  amount  paid  Mr.  Ball  for  the  bronze  group  was  $17,000,  every  cent  of 
which  has  been  remitted  to  him.  So  you  have  a  finished  monument  all  paid 
for.  The  government  appropriated  $3,000  for  the  foundation  and  pedestal 
upon  which  the  bronze  group  stands,  making  the  cost  in  all  $20,000.  I  have 
thus  given  you  a  brief  history  of  the  Freedmen's  Memorial  Monument  and  how 
and  why  the  Western  Sanitary  Commission  came  to  have  anything  to  do  with 
it.  To  them  it  has  been  a  labor  of  love.  In  the  execution  of  the  work  they 
have  exercised  their  best  judgment— done  the  best  that  could  be  done  with  the 
limited  means  they  had  to  do  it  with.  It  remains  with  you  and  those  who  will 
follow  you  to  say  how  wisely  or  how  well  it  has  been  done.  Whatever  of 
honor,  whatever  of  glory  belongs  to  this  work,  should  be  given  to  Charlotte 
Scott,  the  poor  slave  woman.  Her  offering  of  gratitude  and  love,  like  that  of 
the  widow's  mite,  will  be  remembered  in  heaven  when  the  gifts  of  those  rich 
in  this  world's  goods  shall  have  passed  away  and  been  forgotten." 


THREE  GREAT  ENTERPRISES.  339 

Mr.  Langston,  in  receiving  the  statue,  addressing  Mr. 
Yeatman  and  the  audience,  employed  these  words : 

"  In  behalf  of  our  entire  nation,  in  behalf  especially  of  the  donors  of  the 
fund  with  whose  investment  you  and  your  associates  of  the  Western  Sanitary 
Commission  have  been  charged,  I  tender  to  you,  Sir,  and  through  you  to'  the 
commission,  our  sincere  thanks  for  the  prompt  and  wise  performance  of  the 
trust  and  duty  committed  to  your  care.  The  finished  and  appropriate  work  of 
art  presented  by  you  we  accept  and  dedicate,  through  the  ages,  in  memory 
and  honor  of  him  who  is  to  be  forever  known  in  the  records  of  the  World's 
history  as  the  emancipator  of  the  enslaved  of  our  country.  We  unveil  it  to 
the  gaze,  the  admiration  of  mankind.  Fellow-citizens,  according  to  the  arrange- 
ment of  the  order  of  exercises  of  this  occasion,  it  had  fallen  to  my  lot  to  unveil 
the  statue  which  we  dedicate  to-day ;  but  we  have  with  us  the  president  of 
the  United  States,  and  it  strikes  me  that  it  is  altogether  fit  and  proper  to  ask 
him  to  take  part  in  the  exercises  so  far  as  to  unveil  the  monument." 

Others  who  took  part  in  the  exercises  were  Bishop  John 
M.  Brown,  who  offered  prayer;  Hon.  J.  Henri  Burch  of 
Louisiana,  who  read  the  Proclamation  of  Emancipation  ;  Mr. 
William  E.  Mathews,  who  read  the  poem  written  for  the  oc- 
casion by  Miss  Cordelia  Ray,  of  New  York  city ;  and  Hon. 
Frederick  Douglass,  who  delivered  the  oration. 

In  every  way  and  sense  the  exercises  were  of  high  and  im- 
pressive character  and  the  incidents  of  the  occasion  must  be 
remembered  with  gratitude  and  pleasure. 

The  Freedmen's  Savings  and  Trust  Company  was  an  insti- 
tution created  for  the  financial  and  business  education  of  the 
freed  people,  in  whose  branches  located  in  the  different 
States  of  the  South  it  was  believed  these  people  might 
make  their  deposits  with  advantage  and  safety.  Assured  by 
those  who  composed  its  Board  of  Trustees  as  well  as  those 
who  had  its  official  duties  in  hand,  that  the  institution  was 
entirely  reliable  and  that  its  affairs  were  conducted  with  wis- 
dom and  efficiency  in  the  interest  solely  of  its  depositors, 
Mr.  Langston,  after  its  organization,  wherever  he  went  in  the 
South  spoke  of  it  in  commendatory  terms,  and  advised  the 
emancipated  classes  whenever  they  had  occasion  to  deposit 
their  accumulations  to  patronize  and  support  that  banking 
institution.  It  was  not,  however,  until  1872,  upon  the  re- 
tirement of  Messrs.  W.  S.  Huntington  and  H.  D.  Cooke  from 


340       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL.    • 

the  Board  of  Trustees  of  the  company  that  Mr.  Langston 
had  any  direct  official  responsible  connection  with  it.  Then 
he  was  invited  and  pressed  to  accept  place  in  its  Board  of 
Trustees  by  his  friend,  the  vice-president  of  the  institution 
at  the  time,  Dr.  Charles  B.  Purvis.  It  was  represented  to 
him  that  there  was  not  only  need  of  services  such  as  he 
might  render  in  the  Board  itself,  but  that  by  reason  of  the 
retirement  of  the  gentlemen  named  there  had  been  made 
a  vacancy  in  the  Finance  Committee  of  the  institution  which 
he  might  fill  with  great  advantage  to  the  company  and 
doubtless  with  pleasure  to  himself.  He  became  a  trus- 
tee accordingly  through  the  kindness  and  courtesy  of  the 
gentlemen  composing  the  Board,  and  was  subsequently 
made  a  member  of  the  Finance  Committee,  in  1872. 

On  entering  upon  his  duties  in  that  capacity,  Mr.  Lang- 
ston found  himself  in  association  in  the  Board  of  Trustees 
with  many  friends  of  the  freed  people,  distinguished  in  their 
general  reputation  and  influence  as  successful  business 
men  as  well  as  in  their  devotion  to  the  cause  of  such  people. 
Mr.  J.  W.  Alvord  was  president ;  Dr.  Charles  B.  Purvis, 
vice-president  ;  and  Mr.  Daniel  L.  Eaton,  actuary,  with  an 
assistant,  Mr.  George  W.  Stickney.  Among  the  Board  of 
Trustees  he  found  besides  Dr.  Purvis,  several  colored  men 
of  note  and  influence  ;  among  the  latter  class  Mr.  Fred- 
erick Douglass,  who  had  been  a  member  of  the  Board  for 
several  years.  Mr.  W.  J.  Wilson,  a  colored  man,  well-known 
in  the  country,  and  Major  Fleetwood,  were  employed,  as 
well  as  other  colored  persons,  in  subordinate  places,  as  cash- 
ier and  book-keepers.  Apparently  the  institution,  so  far  as 
the  Board  of  Trustees  was  concerned,  and  the  officers  and 
employes  as  well  as  the  standing  committees,  was  in  pros- 
perous and  promising  condition.  However,  Mr.  Langston's 
attention  was  very  soon  called,  in  meetings  of  the  Finance 
Committee,  to  the  real  condition  of  the  institution,  which 
he  found  to  be  anything  other  than  satisfactory,  by  reason 
of  the  fact  that  unwise  manipulation  of  the  funds  had  been 
had,  especially  in  connection  with  many  bad  loans  which 
aggregated  large  sums  of  money,  the  collection  of  which 


THREE  GREAT  ENTERPRISES.  341 

was  hard  and  difficult.  Besides,  the  institution  had  been 
brought  in  such  relations  to  the  community,  and  had  reached 
such  a  condition  in  public  estimate,  that  "runs"  were 
quickly  made  upon  it  ;  and  often  they  worked  considerable 
losses,  in  sacrifices  which  were  necessitated  frequently  in  the 
sale  of  securities.  At  all  events,  Mr.  Langston  found  that  his 
position  was  one  of  trying  responsibility,  delicacy  and  labor. 
So  deeply  interested  was  he,  however,  in  the  bank,  its  vari- 
ous branches,  found  all  over  the  South,  the  work  which  it 
proposed  to  accomplish  in  the  interest  of  the  newly  emanci- 
pated people,  and  the  importance  and  necessity  of  main- 
taining its  life  and  good  name  in  order  to  the  support  of  its 
promises  and  the  payment  of  its  indebtedness  to  such  peo- 
ple, that  he  resolved  to  do  all  in  his  power  to  save  it  against 
all  odds  and  every  adverse  circumstance. 

It  is  matter  of  great  satisfaction  to  him  to  be  able  to  state, 
that  every  considerable  poor  and  doubtful  loan  of  the  bank 
was  made  before  he  became  a  member  of  the  Board  of 
Trustees,  and  every  practice  calculated  to  work  its  ruin  had 
been  made  a  part  of  its  management  without  his  knowledge 
or  participation,  before  he  had  any  concern  in  its  control. 
The  greatest  care  was  exercised,  every  means  practicable 
was  exhausted  in  the  Finance  Committee,  of  which  he  was  a 
member  for  the  two  years  during  which  he  held  connection 
with  the  institution,  in  every  case  of  loan  asked,  to  determine 
the  situation  and  value  of  any  real  property  offered  as 
security,  and  the  probability  and  certainty  of  securing  upon 
forced  sale  of  it,  the  whole  amount  loaned,  with  all  expenses 
made  necessary  in  the  transaction.  In  all  respects,  from 
the  time  he  was  made  a  trustee  and  a  member  of  the 
committee  named,  he  exercised  every  diligence  and  care  to 
save  and  perpetuate  the  company.  He  was  not  slow  to 
oppose  any  proposition  or  measure  whose  adoption  in  his 
judgment  would  disturb  or  injure  the  bank,  as  he  was 
prompt  and  positive  in  accepting  and  urging  the  adoption  of 
any  proposed  action  calculated  to  promote  its  interest  and 
prolong  and  extend  its  life  and  usefulness.  To  all  this,  wen- 
it  necessary,  the  officers  of  the  institution  as  well  as  the 


342       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

committee  with  which  he  acted  so  laboriously,  and  as  he 
trusts  and  believes,  intelligently,  could  testify. 

The  first  year  of  his  service,  as  indicated,  was  passed  with 
such  experiences  and  such  improving  knowledge  of  the 
company  and  its  affairs  as  to  show  in  very  clear  and  striking 
manner  every  feature  of  its  weakness  and  strength.  The 
weakness  of  its  organization,  especially  so  far  as  the  estab- 
lishment of  branches  in  distant  states  was  concerned,  used 
mainly  for  the  collection  and  transmission  of  funds  to  the 
chief  banking  house,  located  at  the  national  capital,  where 
all  moneys  and  securities  were  handled  and  controlled,  and 
the  general  business  of  the  institution  transacted,  became,  in 
experience,  sensibly  manifest.  And  when  the  rule  was 
brought  to  mind  which  had  been  adopted,  that  all  loans 
must  be  made  from  Washington  city,  even  to  persons 
residing  in  States  in  which  branches  were  established  and 
large  amounts  of  deposits  made,  the  weakness  of  the  organ- 
ization in  such  behalf,  in  a  business  point  of  view,  became 
strikingly  apparent.  It  is  only  necessary  to  consider  the  in- 
convenience of  this  rule,  its  expensive  and  impracticable 
character,  to  discover  and  appreciate  the  truth  of  this 
statement.  Besides,  it  so  operated,  practically,  that  a 
depositor  having  large  transactions  with  the  institution 
through  a  local  branch  did  not  gain,  by  such  condition  of 
things,  where  he  would  avail  himself  of  it,  the  credit  to 
which  his  bank  account  entitled  him.  Much  inconvenience 
was  experienced  from  this  condition  of  things;  and  yet  by 
careful  management  the  objections  indicated  were  reason- 
ably overcome. 

During  this  time  it  was  easy  to  discover  how  the  least 
thing,  false  rumor  even,  of  political  significance,  would  pro- 
duce a  movement  against  the  bank.  The  rumor  that  the 
institution  was  specially  interested  in  the  last  election  of 
General  Grant  to  the  presidency  of  the  United  States,  and 
that  it  was  contributing  largely  to  that  end,  produced  a 
movement  against  it  which  cost  it  a  considerable  amount  in 
sacrifice  of  valuable  securities.  Notwithstanding  all  objec- 
tions however,  coming  from  whatever  source  and  caused  by 


THREE  GREAT  ENTERPRISES.  343 

whatever  influence,  on  the  whole  the  institution  was  one 
calculated  to  accomplish  great  good  in  demonstrating  in  its 
large  deposits  the  intelligence,  industry,  economy  and  thrift 
of  the  emancipated  classes,  and  in  its  educating  effects  upon 
them  in  every  business  way.  Every  friend  of  the  freed  peo- 
ple could  have  desired  only  its  prosperity  and  life.  With 
such  feelings  actuating  him,  Mr.  Langston,  with  full  knowl- 
edge upon  the  subject,  did  all  he  could  to  conserve  and  pro- 
mote its  interests. 

T\vo  things  unfortunate,  as  he  believed,  occurred  during 
his  connection  with  the  Board  of  Trustees  of  this  institution, 
to  which  he  interposed  what  seemed  to  him  to  be  important 
and  insuperable  objections.  At  the  annual  meeting  of  the 
Board  of  Trustees,  held  in  March,  1874,  the  proposition  was 
made  to  supersede  Mr.  John  W.  Alvord,  the  founder  of  the 
institution  and  its  president,  by  the  election  to  its  presidency 
of  Mr.  Frederick  Douglass.  The  subject  was  discussed  with 
large  freedom  in  the  board  meeting,  and  the  most  liberal  and 
kindly  feeling  was  expressed  by  all.  The  only  question  which 
weighed  specially  with  those  who  would  maintain  the  bank 
in  its  very  best  conditions  as  to  public  feeling  with  regard 
to  it  and  its  general  business  success,  concerned  the  effect 
of  that  change.  Mr.  Langston  was  open  and  positive  in  the 
opinion  that  any  change  under  the  circumstances  was  ill-ad- 
vised and  would  prove  injurious  to  the  bank.  Besides,  he 
claimed  as  openly  and  positively,  that  Mr.  Douglass  would 
find  the  presidency  of  the  institution  difficult,  trying  and  dis- 
appointing to  him.  But  nevertheless,  he  was  frank  and 
earnest  in  his  avowal,  that  if  the  friends  of  Mr.  Douglass  in 
the  Board  were  determined  to  press  his  case,  and  he  desired 
and  would  accept  the  office  mentioned,  feeling  that  he  was 
willing  and  capable  to  discharge  its  duties,  he  should,  hav- 
ing spoken  freely  and  made  known  his  fears,  vote  for  him. 
However,  the  results  have  demonstrated  fully  that  Mr. 
Langston's  judgment  in  this  matter  was  entirely  correct. 
For  it  is  true  that  Mr.  Douglass  had  not  been  president 
many  days  before  he  discovered  and  expressed  his  disap- 
pointment, and  not  long  thereafter  the  condition  of  the  bank 


344       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

was  found  to  be  such  that  the  proposition  to  close  it  was 
gravely  and  seriously  considered.  The  famous  saying  of 
Mr.  Douglass  that,  "  his  friends  had  married  him  to  a  corpse," 
in  speaking  of  his  election  to  the  presidency  of  the  bank, 
may  be  recalled  here  with  profit  to  all  concerned. 

But  as  early  as  the  month  of  June,  1874,  the  bank  was 
closed.  To  the  manner  of  winding  up  its  business  by  three 
commissioners,  at  large  outlay  to  the  patrons  of  the  institu- 
tion, Mr.  Langston  was  with  several  other  trustees  entirely 
opposed,  believing  and  maintaining  that  its  concerns  should 
all  remain  in  the  hands  and  under  the  control  of  the  trus- 
tees, who  should  be  required  to  close  all  up  in  due  orderly 
business-like  manner,  and  pay  to  every  depositor  the  amount 
found  to  be  due  him,  so  far  as  the  same  could  be  done  from 
the  proceeds  of  the  property,  securities  and  funds  of  the 
institution  ;  while  he  maintained  also  that  not  a  single 
dollar  should  be  paid  for  any  service  connected  with  the 
settlement  to  any  trustee,  and  that  should  there  be  any 
indebtedness  found  to  exist  in  favor  of  any  depositor,  repre- 
sentation in  such  regard  should  be  made  to  the  general 
government  and  appropriation  be  asked  to  pay  the  same. 
However,  upon  the  day  on  which  the  bank  was  closed  it 
had  assets,  with  cash  on  hand,  which  if  wisely  manipulated 
were  abundant  to  pay  upon  Mr.  Langston's  plan  within  a 
reasonable  time  every  dollar  of  the  bank's  obligations.  His 
plan  was  not  sustained,  and  to  this  day  the  honest,  confid- 
ing, patient  depositors  of  the  institution  are  waiting  for 
and  needing  balances  due  them.  At  no  time  in  the  history 
of  the  transactions  here  recorded  did  Mr.  Langston  advise 
the  conduct  of  the  affairs  of  the  institution  by  the  trustees 
for  any  other  purpose  than  to  secure,  finally,  the  results 
suggested.  He  opposed  the  closing  of  the  bank  and  settle- 
ment of  its  affairs  through  commissioners  because  of  the 
great  expense  attending  the  transaction,  and  the  final 
inability  of  the  commissioners  to  make  appeal  to  Congress, 
in  case  of  default  of  funds  to  pay  depositors,  in  such  a 
way  as  to  secure  the  needed  appropriation.  He  believed 
that  the  trustees  alone  could  accomplish  that  object ;  and 


THREE  GREAT  ENTERPRISES.  345 

if  the  institution,  with  all  its  affairs,  was  to  be  controlled 
and  settled  by  any  other  agency  than  its  Board  of 
Trustees,  he  was  of  the  opinion  that  it  might  be  done  by  a 
single  person  even  with  greater  efficiency  and  far  less  ex- 
pense than  by  three  such  agents  as  the  commissioners. 

Here  no  word  is  offered  against  any  one  of  the  persons 
named  as  the  commissioners ;  for  Mr.  Langston  assisted  in 
the  selection  and  approval  of  them  all,  under  the  law  pro- 
viding for  their  appointment.  Besides,  they  were  gentle- 
men well  known  to  him,  as  they  were  to  the  entire  country, 
as  persons  of  high  social  position,  excellent  business  reputa- 
tion and  commanding  influence.  Indeed  it  would  be 
difficult  enough  to  find  three  more  worthy  gentlemen  than 
Messrs.  Creswell,  Purvis  and  Leopold,  who  were  designated 
by  the  Board  of  Trustees  itself  as  the  three  commissioners. 
The  objection,  as  already  stated,  clearly  was  not  to  the 
commissioners  in  their  individual  or  official  character,  but 
to  the  method,  cumbersome  and  expensive,  implied  in  their 
appointment  and  as  sustained  by  the  results  which  fol- 
lowed. 

Perhaps  the  failure  of  no  institution  in  the  country,  how- 
ever extended  its  relations,  however  generally  it  enjoyed 
popular  confidence  and  popular  patronage,  has  ever  wrought 
larger  disappointment  and  more  disastrous  results  to  those 
interested  in  its  creation,  management  and  support  than 
that  of  the  Freedmen's  Savings  and  Trust  Company.  Nor 
was  there  ever  found  in  the  population  of  any  country,  at 
any  time,  under  any  circumstances,  persons  who  could  so 
ill  afford  to  be  thus  disappointed  in  the  failure  and  dissolu- 
tion of  any  institution  than  the  freed  people  in  those  of  this 
company.  The  day  is  distant  even  now  when  they  will  lose 
entirely  their  sense  of  disappointment  and  their  conscious- 
ness of  loss  in  its  failure.  Of  course,  in  proportion  to  the 
deep  sense  of  the  advantage  and  profit  of  the  institution,  as 
realized  by  the  freed  people  themselves,  they  would  feel  its 
shipwreck  and  ruin.  The  sentiment  therefore  that  no 
depositor  of  the  class  indicated  should  be  allowed  to  lose  a 
single  dollar  of  his  deposits,  although  the  government  itself 


346       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

might  be  compelled  to  make  appropriation  to  prevent  that 
result,  is  not  without  just  foundation  in  popular  conviction 
and  judgment.  This  feeling  must  be  increased  largely,  too, 
and  sustained  in  popular  decision,  when  it  is  recollected 
that  the  name  of  the  government  was  too  often  called  in 
that  way  in  connection  with  this  bank,  as  to  give  the 
uninitiated  and  credulous  reason  to  believe  that  the  govern- 
ment would  guarantee  and  sustain  it  in  all  its  liabilities. 
The  people  had  full  faith  in  the  government  which  had 
emancipated  them,  and  could  not  doubt  for  a  moment  the 
sincerity  of  its  purpose  and  power,  so  far  as  the  support  and 
maintenance  of  their  welfare  were  concerned. 

It  will  forever  remain  matter  of  the  profoundest  regret 
that  after  this  company  found  it  necessary,  by  reason  of 
unwise  management,  ill-advised  investments  of  its  funds, 
with  injudicious  manipulation  of  its  securities  and  unfor- 
tunate change  of  its  executive  officers  at  a  critical  juncture 
in  its  history,  upon  its  suspension,  instead  of  continuing  it 
in  the  hands  and  under  the  control  of  its  Board  of  Trustees, 
who  could  make  no  charge  of  any  kind  for  their  services,  it 
was  committed  to  three  commissioners,  whose  salaries 
aggregating  nine  thousand  dollars  per  year,  made,  besides 
other  outlays  occasioned  under  the  law  of  their  creation,  a 
very  large  draft  upon  the  funds  of  the  bank  which  otherwise 
might  have  been  paid,  as  they  ought  to  have  been,  to  the 
depositors. 

The  history  of  banking  institutions  in  this  country  will 
fail  to  furnish  any  examples  of  such  want  of  wisdom  and 
judgment,  to  say  nothing  about  the  utter  disregard  of  the 
interests  of  those  immediately  and  most  seriously  concerned, 
as  the  plan  described,  adopted  for  the  close  and  settlement 
finally  of  the  affairs  of  this  company.  It  is  to  be  recorded 
in  favor  of  the  trustees,  generally,  that  they  were  willing, 
maintaining  their  positions  as  unpaid  officers  of  the  bank,  to 
undertake  the  prompt  and  complete  adjustment  and  pay- 
ment of  all  claims  to  the  extent  of  the  last  dollar  of  property 
and  money  to  every  depositor  and  creditor.  If  that  course 
had  been  pursued,  a  large  saving  would  have  been  made  and 


THREE  GREAT  ENTERPRISES.  347 

the  trustees  themselves  would  have  been  given  the  opportu- 
nity of  making  good,  at  the  least  possible  outlay,  their 
promises  and  obligations  to  the  freed  people,  who  con- 
stituted the  great  bulk  of  the  depositors. 

Mr.  Langston  gave  two  years  of  prompt,  diligent,  and  as 
he  believes,  wise  service  to  the  company,  advising  and  press- 
ing in  every  practicable  way,  not  only  the  collection  of 
every  doubtful  debt  due,  but  counselling  and  sustaining  the 
judicious,  faithful  control  and  management,  under  the  law, 
of  all  its  affairs.  It  is  entirely  agreeable  to  him  that,  as  he 
has  been  informed  and  believes,  there  was  not  a  single  dollar 
loaned  by  vote  of  the  Finance  Committee  after  he  became 
a  member  of  it,  as  approved  by  the  Board  of  Trustees, 
which  was  subject  of  loss  to  the  company.  His  labors  in 
behalf  of  this  institution  were  those  of  one  not  seeking  his 
own  good,  but  that  of  those  who,  just  entering  upon  the 
new  ways  of  freedom,  needed  guidance  and  just  direction 
so  as  to  meet  the  new  responsibilities,  obligations  and 
hopes  of  their  lives. 

In  nothing  connected  with  the  welfare  of  the  freed  people 
of  the  United  States  has  Mr.  Langston  been  so  profoundly 
interested  as  their  education.  In  nothing  has  he  deemed  it 
so  much  a  privilege  and  pleasure  to  labor  as  in  its  interest 
and  to  promote  its  advantage.  It  was  far  back  in  1853 
when  he  met  Miss  Matilda  Minor,  a  young  white  lady  of 
rare  scholarly  attainment  and  culture,  engaged  at  the  time 
in  the  conduct  of  a  school  for  young  colored  girls  in  Wash- 
ington city.  At  this  time  she  was  at  Oberlin  College,  upon 
a  visit  made  in  the  interest  of  the  education  of  colored 
youth.  Her  account  of  her  work  even  then,  small  as  it  was, 
was  of  the  deepest  and  most  thrilling  interest  to  all  who 
heard  her  as  she  described  it ;  while  her  enthusiasm  as 
shown  in  her  conversations  led  every  one  to  applaud,  while 
he  admired  her  devotion  and  heroism.  Little  did  Mr. 
Langston  realize  the  pleasure  that  was  in  store  for  him  in 
the  coming  future,  not  distant,  when  with  slavery  abolished 
in  the  District  of  Columbia  and  throughout  the  United 
States,  he  would  be  called  with  others  when  Miss  Minor 


348       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

was  dead,  having  served  well  her  day  and  generation,  to 
•care  for  and  invest  in  further  and  larger  operations  for  the 
education  of  colored  youth,  the  property  which  she  had  ac- 
cumulated and  dedicated  during  her  life  to  that  purpose. 
Here  is  another  case  of  man's  short-sightedness.  Here  an- 
other instance  of  heroic  devotion  of  one's  self  to  a  good 
cause  so  grandly  and  wisely  that  one  builds  for  herself  a 
monument  in  good  works,  more  enduring  than  brass  or 
granite. 

In  the  northwestern  section  of  the  city  of  Washington, 
when  property  in  that  locality  was  not  estimated  at  large 
figures,  Miss  Minor,  without  knowing  how  well  and  wisely 
she  would  invest,  purchased  a  square  of  unpromising  ground, 
upon  which  she  hoped  at  some  convenient  time  to  erect  a 
commodious  appropriate  structure  which  she  would  dedi- 
cate to  the  education  of  the  more  promising  young  colored 
girls  of  the  capital.  She  died,  however,  before  her  plans  in 
that  behalf  could  be  consummated.  Slavery  was  abolished  ; 
a  new  impulse  was  given  to  the  education  of  the  colored 
youth  of  the  country  ;  and  the  old  Board  of  Trustees  hav- 
ing in  charge  the  property  described,  as  appointed  and  con- 
stituted during  her  life,  was  called  to  fill  vacancies  in  its 
numbers,  when  Mr.  Langston  with  one  or  two  others  was 
honored  in  a  call  in  that  direction.  He  found  himself  as 
agreeably  situated  with  his  colaborers  as  he  was  pleased 
with  the  object  upon  which  he  was  called  so  expend  his 
efforts. 

After  careful  consideration,  in  1874,  the  property  referred 
to — the  city  meantime  having  been  greatly  improved  in  the 
particular  section  where  it  was  located — was  sold  with  ref- 
erence to  reinvestment  of  the  proceeds  of  the  sale  so  as  to 
enlarge  and  render  effective  the  purposes  of  Miss  Minor  with 
regard  to  the  education  of  the  colored  youth.  Accordingly 
reasonable  sale  having  been  made,  a  site  was  purchased  and 
the  Minor  Normal  School  building,  large  and  imposing,  con- 
venient and  model  in  its  construction,  located  on  Seventeenth 
Street  Northwest,  well  known  now  throughout  the  city  of 
Washington,  was  erected  and  dedicated  to  educational  pur- 


THREE  GREAT  ENTERPRISES.  349 

poses  in  the  fall  of  1877.  The  last  public  duty  performed 
by  Mr.  Langston  before  he  left  the  United  States  upon  a 
foreign  mission,  to  which  he  had  been  appointed,  was  to 
preside  at  the  dedicatory  exercises  of  this  building. 

In  severing  his  connection  with  his  kind  associates  of  the 
Board  of  Trustees  of  the  Minor  Fund,  Mr.  Langston  recol- 
lected with  sentiments  of  the  liveliest  gratitude  how  cordially 
and  considerately  he  had  always  been  treated  by  them,  and 
how  harmonious  and  pleasant  their  meetings  had  uniformly 
been,  since  every  member  was  moved  solely  by  an  earnest 
intelligent  purpose  to  secure  the  highest  and  most  lasting 
good  of  those  concerned  most  deeply  in  his  labors. 

At  the  time  Mr.  Langston  was  called  to  the  positions  and 
the  performance  of  the  duties  here  described,  his  time  was  fully 
and  pressingly  occupied  by  daily  labors  connected  with  pro- 
fessional and  official  responsibilities.  And  yet  he  was  more 
than  compensated  in  the  satisfaction  which  he  gained  and  en- 
joyed in  the  consciousness  that  he  was  laboring  in  either 
capacity,  doing  that  which  tended  to  the  permanent  promo- 
tion and  advantage  of  those  who,  newly  emancipated,  needed 
counsel  and  support. 


CHAPTER  XXIII. 

HIS  APPOINTMENT  AS  MINISTER-RESIDENT  AND  CONSUL- 
GENERAL  TO  HAITI  AND  HIS  ARRIVAL  AND  RECEPTION 
AT  PORT-AU-PRINCE. 

A  RESIDENT  of  the  State  of  Ohio,  youthful  and  ardent, 
at  the  very  beginning  of  his  practice  as  a  lawyer,  thoroughly 
imbued  by  study,  reading  and  association  with  the  impor- 
tance and  necessity  of  maintaining  and  applying  republican 
principles,  through  every  practicable  method,  to  save  the 
government,  preserve  the  Union,  and  conserve  the  general 
welfare,  Mr.  Langston  found  himself  ready  as  early  as  1856, 
at  the  very  birth  of  the  Republican  party,  to  enter  with  his 
profoundest  earnestness  and  sympathy  upon  its  advocacy 
and  support.  From  that  time  on,  in  voice,  vote  and  labor, 
this  party  had  in  him,  according  to  the  full  measure  of  his 
ability,  ardent  and  constant  defence.  In  his  judgment,  all 
that  was  hopeful  to  the  oppressed  classes  of  the  country,  of 
whatever  condition  or  complexion,  must  come  through  its 
agency.  He  believed  that  American  liberty  itself,  fast 
losing  its  footing  by  reason  of  the  encroachments  of  slavery, 
must  depend  upon  it  alone  for  its  ultimate  salvation  and 
perpetuity.  Only  through  its  instrumentality,  as  he  held, 
confronting  and  overcoming  the  Democratic  and  Whig 
parties,  could  the  people  save  the  Declaration  of  Indepen- 
dence and  the  Constitution  intact,  so  as  to  perpetuate  those 
free  institutions  provided  and  established  under  those  great 
350 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  351 

state  papers  of  matchless  merit  and  power,  by  the  fathers 
and  founders  of  the  republic.  Moved  by  these  considera- 
tions and  exercising  this  political  faith,  his  devotion  to 
republican  principles  and  the  party  which  sought  to  main- 
tain them  was  natural,  and  to  one  of  his  constitutional  tem- 
per inevitable  and  whole-hearted. 

Beginning  with  the  very  first  nominees  of  this  party  to 
the  presidency  and  vice-presidency  of  the  United  States,  he 
spoke  and  voted  for  every  single  one  ; — deeming  it  his  duty 
to  pursue  this  course,  not  merely  as  a  colored  man,  shorn 
largely  of  his  liberty  and  rights,  thus  seeking  to  regain  and 
enjoy  them  ;  but  with  a  large  purpose,  the  patriotic,  com- 
manding motive  of  saving  American  freedom  itself,  in  the 
interest  of  all  the  people  and  their  posterity.  Having 
voted  to  that  purpose  for  Lincoln,  Grant,  and  those  wor- 
thies who  had  preceded  them  as  leaders  of  the  party,  and  yet 
who  were  not  elected  to  the  high  offices  to  which  they  were 
named,  when  he  was  not  able  with  many  others  who  desired 
and  sought  the  nomination  of  the  Hon.  James  G.  Blaine  to 
secure  that  end,  he  was  ready  to  enter  with  vigor  and  con- 
fidence upon  the  support  of  Ohio's  ablest  and  most  avail- 
able representative  at  the  time,  the  Hon.  Rutherford  B. 
Hayes. 

Full  of  admiration  for  the  great  ability,  magnetic,  dash- 
ing and  charming  qualities  of  character  possessed  by  the 
foremost  statesman  of  Maine  and  New  England,  notwith- 
standing his  opposition  to  the  "  force  bill,"  so-called,  in  the 
early  part  of  the  year  1875,  quite  twelve  months  before 
the  Cincinnati  Republican  nominating  convention,  Mr. 
Langston  ventured  in  conversation  with  Mr.  Blaine  to  urge 
his  acceptance  of  the  nomination  to  the  presidency  of  the 
United  States,  assuring  him  that  the  support  of  the  colored 
American  could  be  brought  to  him.  Repeated  conversa- 
tions were  had  upon  the  same  subject  subsequently,  and  in 
connection  with  others  interested  in  the  same  political 
result,  he  spared  no  pains  while  he  made  every  effort  prac- 
ticable to  accomplish  it.  Among  other  things  he  proposed 
an  informal,  though  remarkable  and  important  gathering 


352       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

at  Mr.  Elaine's  own  house,  who  lived  at  the  time  on  Fif- 
teenth Street,  near  H,  Washington,  D.  C.,  and  who  was  the 
chief  figure  in  the  House  of  Representatives,  and  the  most 
commanding,  attractive,  popular  leader  among  Republican 
statesmen. 

The  personnel  of  the  gathering  referred  to  was  as  remark- 
able, peculiar  and  interesting  as  the  gathering  itself.  Those 
present  were  Mr.  Elaine  himself,  his  wife,  and  Gail  Hamil- 
ton ;  Messrs.  James  A.  Garfield,  George  F.  Hoar,  Colonel 
L.  Edwin  Dudley,  six  bishops  of  the  A.  M.  E.  Church, 
Rev.  H.  M.  Turner  and  John  M.  Langston.  A  lunch  of 
rare  excellence  was  given  by  Mr.  Elaine,  at  which  he  of 
course  presided,  displaying  as  much  charm  and  skill  in  his 
behavior  at  his  own  table  and  on  this  occasion  as  he  had 
ever  shown  elsewhere.  Everyone  present  was  delighted 
with  his  cordial,  hospitable  conduct,  feeling  as  he  listened 
to  his  attractive,  marvelous  conversation  with  his  worthy 
colleagues  and  compeers  of  the  House — Garfield  and  Hoar — 
and  the  negro  worthies  present,  representatives  of  both  piety 
and  learning,  that  of  all  men  in  the  nation  he  was  the  fittest 
for  the  exalted  chair  of  state.  On  coming  away  after 
taking  appropriate  leave  of  the  ladies  present,  who  had  also 
demeaned  themselves  in  such  happy,  agreeable  manner,  win- 
ning thereby  the  favor  certainly  of  every  colored  guest  for 
Mr.  Elaine  and  his  household,  tarrying  upon  the  doorsteps 
of  his  residence  Mr.  Langston,  anxious  to  know  how  his 
colored  friends  felt  in  view  of  their  treatment  and  Mr. 
Elaine's  explanations  of  his  purposes  as  a  Republican  with 
respect  to  national  affairs,  inquired  of  them  how  they  were 
impressed  and  whether  they  were  pleased  with  the  great 
statesman.  The  answer  was  unanimous,  earnest  and  posi- 
tive that  he  was  the  man  who  should  be  made  president. 
All  agreed  to  a  united  and  vigorous  support  of  him,  and  ac- 
cordingly while  Mr.  Langston  did  with  his  friends  every- 
thing he  could  do  to  secure  that  object,  even  going  to  Cin- 
cinnati and  laboring  with  all  his  might  for  days  in  that  be- 
half, and  the  Rev.  Mr.  Turner  was  honored  with  the  privi- 
lege of  following  Colonel  Ingersoll  in  seconding  the  nom- 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  353 

inatlon  of  Mr.  Elaine,  they  were  defeated.  No  one  attend- 
ing this  select,  memorable  gathering  failed  to  give  Mr. 
Elaine  so  far  as  possible  his  earnest  and  active  support  as 
opportunity  permitted,  for  the  presidency  of  the  United 
States.  So  sure  did  the  result  in  this  case  seem  to  be  even 
in  advance,  that  arrangements  were  made  for  Mr.  Langston 

to  speak  at  several  places  in  Ohio — among  others  at  Athens 

in  confirmation  of  the  action  of  the  convention  and  in  favor 
of  the  election  of  its  nominee  as  expected,  the  Hon.  James 
G.  Elaine.  The  competitors  and  rivals  for  that  honor,  Bris- 
tow,  Morton  and  Conkling,  were  too  numerous  and  too 
powerful  to  render  that  result  possible ;  and  hence  as 
already  stated,  Governor  Hayes  received  the  nomination. 
Instead  of  addressing  the  meetings  referred  to  in  favor  of 
Elaine,  Mr.  Langston  addressed  them  in  favor  of  Hayes. 
Beginning  thus  at  once,  he  continued  his  labors,  speaking 
for  the  Republican  nominees  for  president  and  vice-presi- 
dent, until  at  the  close  of  election  day  the  people  had  re- 
corded their  judgment  by  their  vote  in  favor  of  Hayes  and 
Wheeler. 

The  last  speech  which  Mr.  Langston  made  during  this 
canvass  was  that  delivered  by  him  from  the  west  steps  of 
the  state  capitol  of  Ohio,  when  Governor  Hayes  and  his 
excellent  wife,  seated  indoors  where  they  could  hear  every 
word  which  he  uttered,  gave  him  their  undivided  attention 
for  over  two  hours.  And  when  he  had  closed  his  speech, 
invited  by  the  governor  himself  into  the  executive  office,  he 
was  introduced  to  Mrs.  Hayes  and  given  a  reception  which 
for  cordiality  and  high  personal  consideration  could  not  be 
surpassed. 

Upon  his  election  and  inauguration  President  Hayes,  by 
reason  of  the  conspicuous  and  important  part  which  he  had 
played  in  connection  with  the  former,  in  distributing  honors 
and  offices  in  the  foreign  service  tendered  Mr.  Langston 
one  of  five  different  diplomatic  and  consular  positions. 
The  manner  of  conveying  his  purpose  in  this  behalf  was  no 
less  flattering  than  surprising.  For  although  President 
Hayes  had  assured  him  within  a  few  weeks  after  his  inau- 


354       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

guration  that  he  did  not  intend  to  forget  him  in  the  distri- 
bution of  his  official  patronage,  he  had  no  thought  that  he 
would  appoint  him  to  a  foreign  place,  or  convey  to  him  his 
purpose  in  that  regard  by  the  most  prominent  member  of 
his  Cabinet,  with  the  offer  that  he  might  make  choice  as 
indicated.  He  was  not  without  full  knowledge  that  he  had 
served  the  party  and  its  nominees  during  the  past  campaign 
with  fidelity  and  efficiency,  but  he  inclined  to  the  belief  that 
should  anything  be  done  in  his  case  in  the  way  of  advance- 
ment in  his  position,  it  could  only  be  to  some  more  prom- 
inent and  lucrative  place  at  home. 

Although  often  urged  by  Senator  Sumner  to  fit  himself 
specially  for  diplomatic  service,  with  the  offer  even  of 
assistance  in  the  study  of  the  French  language,  of  which 
the  senator  was  a  master,  and  in  international  law,  as 
applied  particularly  and  practically  to  that  service  and  of 
which  the  senator  had  large  knowledge,  Mr.  Langston  had 
always  treated  the  possibility  of  such  high  honor  being  con- 
ferred upon  him  as  wholly  chimerical  and  without  the  least 
prospect  of  realization.  But  here  it  was,  in  fact,  upon  him ; 
with  appointment  to  a  country  and  near  a  government 
employing  as  its  vernacular  the  French  language ;  for 
advised  as  to  the  character,  the  health,  and  the  probable 
duties  at  the  capital  in  which  he  might  be  located,  he 
selected  his  place  as  minister-resident  and  consul-general  in 
the  historic  negro  republic  of  Haiti.  So  soon  as  he  had 
received  his  appointment  he  entered  upon  such  preparation 
as  seemed  to  be  practicable  within  the  very  brief  period 
elapsing  before  he  must  take  his  departure. 

Though  educated  according  to  the  very  best  methods  of 
the  schools  of  his  country,  with  large  experience  of  general 
business  in  his  own  profession  and  otherwise,  Mr.  Langston 
found  himself  now  in  want  of  that  special  knowledge  in  too 
great  measure  indispensable  to  the  easy  and  effective  per- 
formance of  the  new  service  upon  which  he  was  about  to 
enter.  The  hurried  and  imperfect  instructions,  verbal  and 
written,  given  at  the  State  Department,  did  not  prove  at  all 
adequate  for  those  necessities  which  confront  one  situated 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  355 

as  he  was,  upon  the  very  threshold  of  his  mission.  Choos- 
ing a  place  of  great  importance,  connected  with  which 
grave  responsibilities  were  numerous  and  urgent,  involving 
not  only  a  comprehensive,  delicate  understanding  of  inter- 
national law  doctrines  and  usages,  but  a  mastery  at  least  of 
the  French  language,  Mr.  Langston  felt  himself  fairly  well 
off  in  his  knowledge  of  the  former,  while  wholly  at  fault  in 
his  understanding  of  the  latter.  For  the  benefit  of  any 
who  may  contemplate  a  residence  abroad  as  a  representa- 
tive of  the  American  government,  in  a  French  speaking 
country,  in  a  capital  where  it  is  necessary  in  order  to  make 
social  and  business  progress  to  speak  French,  that  person 
would  do  well  to  fit  himself  by  diligent,  faithful  mastery  of 
that  tongue  before  he  leaves  his  own  home. 

Mr.  Langston  was  largely  influenced  in  the  choice  of  the 
government  near  which  he  would  represent  his  own,  by  con- 
siderations of  peculiar  and  special  character.  He  had 
thought  much,  as  he  had  read  of  this  government  built  and 
supported  by  negro  genius  and  power.  He  had  familiarized 
himself  in  youth  with  the  history  of  the  people  who,  eman- 
cipating themselves  under  Toussaint,  had  under  Dessalines 
declared  and  established  their  sovereignty,  founding  for 
themselves  a  republican  form  of  government.  He  had 
learned  how  for  more  than  seventy  years,  in  spite  of  fre- 
quent revolutions,  destructive  often  of  thousands  of  lives 
and  incalculable  amounts  of  property,  this  people  had 
maintained  their  nationality  and  independence.  He  had 
heard,  too,  that  many  of  their  leading  men  were  scholarly 
and  accomplished,  and  that  so  far  as  the  medical  profession, 
the  bar,  and  commerce  were  concerned,  men  of  large  ability 
and  business  knowledge  exercised  controlling  and  directing 
influence.  He  had  also  been  advised  that  a  standing  army, 
sometimes  reaching  in  its  numbers  many  thousands,  and 
embracing  all  males  over  eighteen  and  under  forty-five 
years  of  age,  did  not  disturb,  materially,  the  general  educa- 
tion of  the  people  as  conducted  in  parochial  schools,  sup- 
ported by  the  government  and  under  the  guidance  and 
management  of  the  Church.  He  also  understood  that  upon 


356       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

a  concordat  made  with  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  by  the 
government  of  the  country,  the  Roman  Catholic  religion 
was  made  national  and  supported  by  national  appropriation  ; 
and  yet  freedom  of  thought  and  religion  was  tolerated 
everywhere  and  by  all  classes  ;  so -that  even  there,  the  dom- 
inant moral  influence  was  held  and  exercised  by  the  Ma- 
sonic Order,  which  is  in  its  numbers  as  comprehensive 
well-nigh  as  the  entire  adult  male  population.  He  had  fur- 
ther learned  that  in  this  condition  of  affairs  considerable 
progress  had  been  made  under  the  various  noted  rulers  of 
the  country,  in  all  those  things  which  pertained  to  well- 
ordered  national  life.  In  short,  he  was  impressed  that  in 
all  such  respects  as  well  as  others  not  specially  named,  but 
which  concern  a  progressive  nation,  he  would  find  in  this 
negro  country,  with  its  Black  Republic,  a  condition  of  life 
which,  while  it  realized,  would  justify  the  dream  of  his 
youth  with  respect  to  an  actual  negro  nationality.  He 
therefore  chose  above  all  others  within  his  reach  the  Hay- 
tian  Government  as  the  one  near  which  he  would  make  his 
residence  as  the  diplomatic  and  consular  representative  of 
the  United  States. 

More  than  this,  upon  special  representations  made  to 
him  by  an  old  sea  captain  distinguished  in  the  American 
navy,  he  had  been  led  to  believe  that  the  country,  mountain- 
ous, abounding  in  beautiful  forests  and  limpid  streams, 
was  simply  delightful,  offering  in  its  productions  of  flowers, 
fruits  and  vegetation  generally,  rare  beauty  and  excellence, 
with  health  and  comfort  in  its  salubrious,  charming  climate, 
especially  upon  the  mountains,  with  its  ever-changing  but 
famous  land  and  sea  breezes,  the  sources  of  constant  bodily 
vigor  and  ordinarily,  great  longevity.  Of  its  skies,  its  sun- 
risings  and  sunsettings,  its  scenery  of  land  and  sea,  all  ex- 
quisite in  beauty  and  charm,  he  had  read  and  heard  from 
his  very  boyhood  ;  and  now  that  he  could  see  all  these 
matchless  things  for  himself  the  seeming  pleasure  of  doing 
so  became  irresistible,  and  he  concluded  to  locate  at  Port- 
au-Prince,  in  many  respects  really  a  tropical,  handsome  city, 
situated  upon  a  bay  whose  magnificence  is  unsurpassed  and 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  357 

fascinating.  He  was  not,  when  finally  located  in  that 
country,  disappointed  in  a  single  particular. 

In  addition  to  such  information  as  he  had  gained  by 
reading  and  from  the  person  specially  to  whom  allusion  has 
been  made,  when  Mr.  Langston  had  reached,  really,  his 
conclusion  and  yet  hesitated  a  little  about  going  to  Haiti, 
in  view  of  the  reports  always  circulated  as  to  the  inhospi- 
table deadly  effects  of  the  climate  in  and  about  its  capital, 
Port-au-Prince,  another  person,  also  high  in  the  American 
navy,  wholly  familiar  with  the  country  and  the  conditions 
of  life  there,  called  upon  him  and  advised,  for  his  own  sake, 
personally,  and  that  of  his  country  as  well  as  tha't  of  the 
Haytian  people  themselves,  that  he  accept  and  go  upon  the 
mission,  assuring  him  that  however  high  his  expectations 
might  be,  the  actual  results  would  compensate  him  in  such 
measure  and  in  such  way  that  he  would  be,  finally,  happy 
and  proud  of  his  decision  and  course.  He  has  always  felt 
under  special  obligation  to  Captain  Brown,  to-day  libra- 
rian of  the  Navy  Department,  for  his  good  services  rendered 
him  in  this  regard. 

Mr.  Langston  was  thus  thoroughly  confirmed  in  his 
judgment  and  determination  when  he  received  from  the 
president,  through  the  State  Department,  his  appointment 
and  instructions  as  the  minister-resident  and  consul-general 
of  the  United  States  near  the  government  of  Haiti.  How- 
ever surprising  at  first  this  appointment  was  to  him,  it 
became  at  last  a  genuine  inspiration  and  matter  of  pride. 
What  other  feelings  would  an  intelligent  American,  patri- 
otic and  loyal,  expect  to  have  seize  and  control  his  being? 
Sixty-five  millions  of  people;  the  fairest,  the  richest,  the 
most  beautiful  country  of  the  earth  ;  a  government  stronger 
and  more  enduring  than  the  foundations  of  the  mountains, 
steady  and  firm,  as  resting  in  the  affections,  the  intelligence 
and  virtue  of  the  community,  compose  and  constitute  the 
constituency  and  power  which  the  American  diplomat 
must  feel  he  represents.  Conscious  of  these  facts,  how- 
could  he  be  otherwise  than  inspired ;  how  else  than  havr 
his  soul  moved  by  the  feelings  of  earnest,  patriotic,  manly 


358       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

pride!  And  then  the  representative  of  the  United  States 
government  in  this  case,  was  going  to  a  country  where  he 
might  hope  to  witness  inspiring  scenes  and  accomplish- 
ments in  connection  with  a  nation  and  people  in  whom  he 
must  have  special  and  ardent  interest.  He  was  to  represent 
the  great  Republic  of  the  North,  the  matchless  government 
of  the  Anglo-Saxon  race,  near  that  of  the  Black  Republic 
of  the  South,  whose  people  had  from  slavery  asserted  and 
maintained  their  freedom  ;  and  thus  emancipated  had 
declared  and  supported  their  independence  and  sovereignty, 
as  led  and  directed  by  their  own  sons,  the  gifted  Toussaint 
and  the  valiant  Dessalines.  He  would  behold  now  for  the 
first  time,  in  actual  realization,  negro  nationality  in  har- 
monious, honored  activity,  in  a  country  (though  an  island 
in  its  dimensions)  second  to  none  in  its  beauty  and  rich- 
ness— fit  to  be  the  very  Garden  of  Eden  ! 

Mr.  Langston's  appointment  bore  date  September  28th, 
1877,  to  take  effect  on  the  first  day  of  October;  and  im- 
mediately thereafter,  necessary  arrangements  having  been 
completed,  with  the  usual  allowance  of  time  for  instructions 
given  him,  he  took. his  departure,  reaching  New  York  city 
in  time  to  take  passage  upon  the  steamer  "  Andes  "  of  the 
Atlas  Steamship  Company,  an  English  line,  sailing  at  the 
time  between  New  York  city  and  the  open  ports  of  Haiti, 
including  Cape  Haytian  and  Port-au-Prince.  This  was  his 
first  voyage  at  sea.  After  three  days  of  rather  severe  sea- 
sickness, with  Hatteras  left  behind  and  the  more  difficult 
parts  of  the  Crooked  Island  passage  coming  in  view,  so  as 
to  discover  many  of  the  beauties  of  that  section  of  the  con- 
tinent to  a  novice  in  sea-faring  life,  rallying  and  becoming 
firm  of  foot  as  of  health  on  shipboard,  he  enjoyed  the  trip 
thereafter  with  a  zest  and  pleasure  real  and  inspiriting. 

On  the  Sabbath  which  intervened,  Captain  Hughes,  in 
command  of  the  ship,  insisted  after  a  late  breakfast  that 
religious  exercises,  including  the  reading  of  a  Scripture  les- 
son with  appropriate  remarks,  be  conducted,  all  the  pas- 
sengers being  invited  to  be  present,  and  so  far  as  any  one 
or  more  of  them  might  be  inclined  to  do  so,  take  part, 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  359 

according  to  desire  and  choice  therein.  Special  respect  was 
shown  the  American  minister,  who  was  not  only  invited  to 
preside  and  conduct  the  reading,  but  to  make  such  remarks 
as  might  please  him,  pertinent  to  the  occasion  and  circum- 
stances. This  he  did  and  thereby  won  great  favor  with  the 
officers  as  well  as  the  passengers  on  the  ship.  Indeed,  the 
captain  complimented  him  by  declaring  that  he  would 
make  a  most  excellent  chaplain.  Several  times,  in  fact, 
after  he  had  been  heard  at  this  meeting,  he  was  invited  by 
all  on  board  to  make  addresses.  And  when  nearing  the 
close  of  the  voyage  it  was  proposed  to  honor  the  captain 
by  opening  a  bottle  of  champagne  and  drinking  his  health, 
Mr.  Langston  was,  by  unanimous  call  and  applause,  made 
the  orator  par  excellence. 

The  ship  made  her  first  stop  in  the  outer  harbor  of  Cape 
Haytian — not  however  coming  to  anchor — to  await  the  arri- 
val, first  of  the  health  officer  of  the  port,  and  secondly  the 
pilot,  who  were  not  long  in  making  their  appearance  and 
coming  on  board.  The  doctor  arrived  first,  and  was  wel- 
comed by  the  captain  as  a  person  of  character  and  author- 
ity. Calling  for  the  ship's  bill  of  health  he  made  quick 
work  of  its  examination,  and  declared  that  all  was  right. 
He  had  not  quitted  the  ship  however  before  the  pilot  came 
aboard,  and  welcomed  by  Captain  Hughes,  after  the  usual 
salutations,  went  directly  upon  the  bridge  of  the  ship,  and 
taking  full  command,  issued  his  first  order,  in  obedience  to 
which,  at  once,  the  vessel  was  put  under  way  and  carried  to 
her  place  of  anchorage  within  the  harbor. 

These  officers  both  were  extremely  black  men  ;  and  yet, 
appearing  in  uniforms  of  official  character  and  demeaning 
themselves  with  intelligence  and  propriety,  they  made  a  re- 
markably good  impression.  As  they  arrived  in  small  boats, 
mounted  the  great  ship  by  a  rope  ladder,  approached 
its  officers,  performed  their  respective  official  duties  and 
then  retired,  paying  their  respects  to  the  captain  and  reply- 
ing to  any  questions  put  by  any  passenger  to  either  of 
them,  they  were  made  subjects  of  close  scrutiny  and  ob- 
servation by  everyone  who  saw  them.  They  were  in- 


360       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

deed  objects  of  the  liveliest  interest  to  Mr.  Langston.  He 
had  never  seen  up  to  that  time  men  of  their  complexion 
holding  such  positions  and  performing  such  duties.  His 
curiosity  therefore  was  profoundly  excited,  so  that  he  in- 
quired of  the  captain  who  they  were  and  what  they  came 
aboard  of  the  ship  for?  To  these  questions  he  replied  in 
full  explanation,  adding  at  the  same  time,  "You  are  no\v, 
Mr.  Minister,  in  a  negro  country,  and  as  I  intend  to  invite 
you  to  go  ashore  with  me,  I  will  show  you  sights  which 
shall  be  new,  and  perhaps  a  little  surprising." 

It  was  early  in  the  morning,  about  eight  o'clock,  on  the 
sixth  day  after  the  ship  had  sailed  from  New  York  city, 
that  it  reached  Cape  Haytian.  At  ten  o'clock,  having  gone 
ashore  with  the  captain  and  his  own  private  secretary,  Mr. 
Adrian  H.  Lazare,  Mr.  Langston  was  occupied  in  a  most 
interesting,  strange  and  novel  way,  as  these  gentlemen,  each 
with  no  little  enthusiasm  and  emphasis,  pointed  out  to  him 
the  wonders  of  this  ancient  city  of  the  Black  Republic, 
where  marvelous  things  had  occurred  formerly,  as  well  in 
earthquakes  of  awful  effects  as  in  the  doings  of  those  chiefs 
of  the  country,  Dessalines,  Christophe  and  others,  whose 
deeds  of  valor  and  triumph  are  remembered  as  recorded  in 
the  history  of  this  part  of  Haiti,  with  the  liveliest  interest 
and  pride.  This  introduction  to  Haiti  and  the  Haytians 
was  in  every  sense  a  new  revelation  to  Mr.  Langston.  He 
had  hitherto  only  seen  the  negro  in  his  best  estate  at  home, 
in  nominal  freedom  and  dependence.  Now  he  beholds  him 
the  owner  of  a  great  country,  the  founder  and  builder  of  a 
great  government,  with  a  national  sovereignty  and  power 
respected  and  honored  by  all  the  great  Christian  civilized 
powers  of  the  earth.  And  yet  the  Haytian  appeared  to  be 
liberal,  generous  and  cordial  to  any  foreigner,  of  whatsoever 
nationality  or  complexion  ;  while  on  every  hand  he  ex- 
hibited upon  this  first  view  of  his  country  and  life,  as  shown 
in  the  large  business  interests  and  activities  of  this  first  city 
of  the  North,  that  his  success  and  prosperity  depended  not 
only  upon  his  intelligence,  but  the  vigor  and  energy  which 
he  cultivated.  This  first  view  of  the  country  and  people 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  361 

thus  accorded  Mr.  Langston,  though  but  a  mere  glimpse  of 
what  he  was  to  see,  was  most  favorable  and  excited  in  him 
an  earnest  desire  to  reach  the  capital,  where  he  would  find 
the  very  best  conditions  of  Haytian  life  and  society. 

Having  landed  any  passengers  aboard  for  Cape  Haytian, 
and  having  discharged  all  freight  brought  to  that  port,  the 
good  "  Andes  "  weighed  anchor  and  went  to  sea,  bound  for 
Port-au-Prince,  at  seven  o'clock  on  the  evening  of  the  same 
day  of  her  arrival  at  the  cape.  As  they  were  leaving  this 
port  the  captain  promised  his  passengers  two  things — that 
they  should  have  a  trip  to  the  capital  of  such  speed  that  at 
seven  o'clock  the  next  morning  the  ship  should  be  at  anchor 
in  the  harbor  of  Port-au-Prince ;  and  that  he  would  carry 
them  over  a  portion  of  the  sea,  the  Northern  Channel  so- 
called,  within  easy  view  of  the  coast,  whose  scenery  was  un- 
surpassed by  anything,  even  on  the  Hudson,  closing  with  a 
sunrise  over  the  Tuyeaux  mountains,  lying  about  the  city 
of  Port-au-Prince,  which  in  radiance  and  splendor  could  not 
be  surpassed  in  the  world.  He  kept  his  promise  in  both  re- 
spects, and  by  nine  o'clock,  after  he  had  held  a  reception  of 
distinguished  friends  who  awaited  his  arrival,  on  shipboard, 
the  American  minister,  having  bade  Captain  Hughes,  with 
other  friends  made  within  the  seven  days  of  his  seafaring 
experience,  farewell,  left  the  ship  by  a  small  boat  for  the 
shore.  Once  there,  the  vision  and  reality  of  absolute,  posi- 
tive negro  nationality  presented  itself  to  him,  in  boldest, 
most  striking  features,  and  yet  without  such  disagreeable 
and  unpleasant  circumstances  as  to  cause  the  least  anxiety 
or  regret  that  he  was  at  last  in  the  capital  of  the  country, 
near  whose  government  he  should  reside. 

Even  the  ride  from  the  great  ship  by  small  boat  to  the 
shore,  as  Mr.  Langston  landed  in  the  harbor  of  Port-au- 
Prince,  was  full  of  novelty  and  interest.  He  was  in  fact 
accompanied  by  a  sort  of  convoy  of  small  craft,  all  in  the 
hands  and  under  the  management  of  skillful  accommodating 
Haytians,  who  give  constant  attention  to  that  service.  The 
honorable  representative  of  the  British  government  and 
the  American  minister,  who  had  for  so  many  years  repre- 


362       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

sented  their  respective  governments  near  that  of  Haiti, 
paid  their  respects  to  Mr.  Langston  on  shipboard  and  con- 
ducted him  ashore.  Each  had  his  carriage  in  waiting  and 
subject  to  the  desires  of  Mr.  Langston,  to  be  used  by  him 
for  his  conveyance  to  the  hotel,  the  legation  of  the  United 
States,  or  according  to  invitations  extended  him,  to  the 
home  of  either  of  the  gentlemen  referred  to.  On  reaching 
the  shore  he  found  large  representation  from  the  American 
colony  awaiting  his  arrival,  and  from  it  he  received  a  most 
cordial  and  flattering  welcome.  After  kindly  greetings, 
with  introductions  to  several  prominent  Haytian  officials 
connected  with  the  custom  house  and  port,  his  baggage 
meantime  having  been  put  in  order  and  forwarded  to  the 
residence  of  Hon.  E.  D.  Bassett,  the  retiring  American 
minister,  Mr.  Langston  took  carriage  and  was,  in  company 
with  his  host,  conveyed  to  the  American  Legation.  Here 
he  and  his  secretary,  Mr.  Adrian  H.  Lazare,  were  accorded 
the  heartiest  possible  reception,  and  after  a  short  but  de- 
lightful stay  went  to  the  house  of  the  American  minister, 
three  miles  away  in  the  country.  Here  he  found  a  pleasant 
home,  fit  for  the  repose  and  rest  of  one  who  had  just  come 
from  a  fatiguing  trip  upon  the  sea.  The  consideration  and 
hospitality  with  which  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Bassett  received  and 
treated  Mr.  Langston  and  his  secretary,  remembered  with 
such  lively  sentiments  of  gratitude,  are  profoundly  appreci- 
ated. Nor  shall  it  be  forgotten  that  in  connection  with 
this  family,  the  near  neighbors,  the  household  of  Gen. 
Joseph  Lubin,  did  much  to  render  their  stay  at  Sans  Souci 
entirely  agreeable  and  profitable.  Several  days  thus  spent 
with  these  companions  gave  Mr.  Langston  the  best  possible 
opportunity  for  making  rapid  progress  in  the  study  of  all 
those  things  which  respected  Haiti  and  the  Haytians.  The 
subjects  were  comparatively  new  and  interesting,  and  were 
studied  with  no  little  ardor.  Daily  visits  were  made  to  the 
city  and  full  observations  were  taken  of  life  and  activity, 
business  and  other,  therein.  Nothing  was  allowed  to 
escape  notice  and  inquiry.  Even  the  different  conditions 
of  the  population  were  noted,  so  that  whether  American, 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  363 

English,  German,  French  or  Danish— for  all  these  diverse 
elements  were  found  among  the  people  of  this  city — pre- 
sented themselves,  they  were  at  once  recognized  by  their 
marked  difference  from  the  Haytian.  The  Haytian  nation- 
ality, like  the  Haytian  speech  and  manner,  was  peculiar 
and  distinct.  His  habits  as  well  as  his  manifestations  of 
kindly  regard  were  his  own.  While  the  very  best  condi- 
tions of  Haytian  life  and  society  are  seen  in  Port-au-Prince, 
it  never  loses  its  individuality  and  identity.  As  a  class  the 
people  are  hospitable,  considerate  and  kind  to  strangers, 
especially  Americans,  and  in  no  act  or  exhibition  of  feel- 
ing on  their  part  ever  discover  any  inclination  to  discrimi- 
nate against  one  on  account  of  his  color  except  in  the 
purchase  and  possession  of  real  estate.  Mr.  Langston  was 
well  pleased  with  all  he  saw  in  Port-au-Prince,  in  the  main, 
and  was  especially  delighted  with  the  evidences  of  wealth 
and  culture  which  he  found  among  the  people  generally. 
Their  educational  and  religious  condition,  though  both 
were  dominated  by  Roman  Catholic  influences,  pleased  him 
much.  He  recognized  his  ability  within  a  very  short  time 
after  his  arrival,  to  locate  himself,  so  far  as  the  people,  the 
government,  the  city  and  the  neighboring  country  were 
concerned,  in  very  agreeable  circumstances.  He  was  es- 
pecially delighted — charmed  in  fact — with  the  generosity 
manifested  by  every  Haytian  with  whom  he  was  brought 
into  social  or  other  relations.  General  Lubin  illustrated  all 
that  is  here  referred  to  in  his  kind  offer  made  both  Mr. 
Langston  and  his  secretary,  to  use,  according  to  their  desire 
and  necessities,  his  horses,  bridles  and  saddles  during  their 
sojourn  with  Mr.  Bassett,  without  the  least  cost  and  at  any 
time.  Besides,  he  not  only  invited  the  new  minister  to 
pleasant  quarters  and  entertainment  at  his  own  house,  but 
gave  him  free  use  of  his  valuable  library,  offering  daily  such 
information  with  respect  to  his  country  and  countrymen  as 
he  felt  the  minister  might  need  in  entering  upon  his  diplo- 
matic duties. 

Port-au-Prince  is  located  upon  a  harbor  of  great  capacity, 
accommodating  shipping  of  large  proportions,  as  it  repre- 


364       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

sents  every  flag  and  nationality.  Surrounded  as  this  city  is  by 
mountains  which  lift  themselves  thousands  of  feet  above  the 
level  of  the  sea,  its  situation  is  one  of  remarkable  natural 
strength  and  defence.  All  shipping  in  this  harbor  is  en- 
tirely protected  against  every  violence  of  the  ocean  and  every 
ship  rides  at  ease  as  anchored  therein.  Upon  the  summit  of 
the  loftiest  mountain  range,  lying  back  and  east  of  the  city, 
is  located  the  famous  national  fort,  which  is  supposed  to  be 
quite  sufficient  to  defend  it  and  all  shipping  of  the  harbor 
against  attack  from  the  sea.  The  views  seaward  from  the 
city  are  extended  and  commanding.  The  approach  of  any 
craft,  warlike  or  other,  is  easily  detected  at  great  distance 
away,  as  it  arrives  either  by  the  northern  or  southern  channel 
leading  into  the  harbor.  The  Island  of  Gonave  lying  off  in 
the  sea,  to  the  west  of  the  city,  dividing  the  ocean  and  thus 
creating  such  channels  flowing  about  it,  and  at  the  same  time 
so  closing  in  the  harbor  as  to  make  it  a  safe  and  delightful  re- 
treat for  all  shipping,  presents  to  everyone  looking  upon  it 
a  mountainous,  rugged,  picturesque  prospect  of  marvelous 
and  striking  sublimity.  At  sunset,  ordinarily,  it  is  a  thing  of 
indescribable  radiance  and  glory,  with  the  twilight  lingering 
and  playing  about  it  often  till  far  into  the  evening.  To  say 
that  a  city  thus  situated  and  surrounded  must  be  beautiful 
in  its  site  as  well  as  quite  impregnably  fortified  by  nature,  is 
to  make  an  assertion  with  respect  to  Port-au-Prince  which 
will  be  accepted  without  question. 

Such  considerations  will  all  be  appreciated  when  it  is  recol- 
lected that  this  city  is  the  capital  of  the  nation  ;  that  here 
the  national  palace  is  located  ;  that  here  the  national  assem- 
bly, composed  of  the  Senate  and  House  of  Deputies,  holds 
its  stated  meetings  ;  that  here  the  executive  officers  as  well 
as  the  judicial,  military  and  naval,  have  their  homes ;  and 
that  here  the  retired  distinguished  statesmen  of  the  coun- 
try make  their  residences  ;  while  here  also  the  chief  and  most 
valuable  commerce  of  the  country  is  conducted.  The 
further  consideration  that  the  nation  is  one  distinguished  for 
its  revolutionary  movements,  which  are  sometimes  very  se- 
vere, protracted  and  destructive  as  well  of  life  as  property, 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  365 

must  enhance  especially  in  general  estimation  the  fortified 
condition  of  the  capital  as  indicated. 

The  city  is  so  situated  that  it  is  of  easy  access  from  all 
parts  of  the  island  by  sea,  and  can  be  reached  without  seri- 
ous difficulty  from  any  point  inland  by  the  ordinary  citizen 
coming  on  horseback  or  on  foot.  Its  situation  is  central ; 
it  is  the  metropolis  of  the  island,  and  the  business  of  the 
republic — political,  official  and  commercial— is  mainly  done 
there.  Whatever  may  be  the  general  view  which  one  gains 
in  travel  in  or  about  the  island  ;  however  he  may  catch 
glimpses  of  its  great  mountains,  their  rich,  productive  sides 
and  slopes  ;  the  plains,  fertile  and  fruitful,  as  the  Cul-de- 
Sac  ;  it  is  only  as  he  sees  the  products  themselves  garnered 
and  collected  there,  the  coffee,  the  logwood,  the  hides,  the 
honey,  the  sugar,  the  cotton,  the  domestic  animals,  horses, 
cattle,  sheep  and  poultry  of  every  sort,  grown  in  the  coun- 
try, that  he  realizes  and  may  estimate  justly  the  fertility  and 
productive  power  of  its  soil.  It  is  as  the  stranger  finds 
these  products  accumulated  in  the  markets  and  storehouses 
of  Port-au-Prince,  that  he  can  understand  the  quantity  and 
value  of  them.  So  far  as  the  fruits  of  the  island  are  con- 
cerned, the  orange,  the  lemon,  the  banana,  the  cocoanut, 
the  mango,  with  others  of  tropical  character  and  name,  he 
must  travel  about  the  island  to  appreciate  these,  since  little 
account  is  made  of  them  as  articles  of  commerce.  These 
fruits  however  are  of  excellent  quality,  and  as  articles  of 
diet  of  the  greatest  importance,  as  will  be  discovered  at 
once  by  such  association  with  the  people  of  the  country 
as  to  bring  one  to  their  tables. 

The  most  imperfect  observation  of  the  country  in  its 
great  leading  features  impresses  the  stranger  with  its  exceed- 
ing natural  beauty.  Nor  is  any  part  of  this  impression 
lost  as  one  is  brought  face  to  face  with  its  great  mountains 
and  their  streams,  the  latter  losing  themselves  finally  in  the 
sea;  and  the  plains,  whose  productiveness  discovers  itself  so 
generally  in  sugar-cane,  which  seems  to  be  inexhaustible  in 
quantity,  excellent  in  quality,  not  requiring  resetting,  in 
many  cases,  for  great  periods  of  time— as  long  sometimes 
24 


366       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

as  fifty  or  more  years.  It  is  hardly  necessary  to  state  that 
the  American  minister,  surveying  the  harbor,  the  city  and 
the  surrounding  country  under  the  agreeable  circumstances 
pictured,  from  the  deck  of  the  goodly  ship  which  had  borne 
him  across  the  Atlantic ;  then  landing  in  the  metropolis  of 
Port-au-Prince  at  an  hour  of  stir  and  activity  in  its  business, 
with  the  streets  alive  with  its  energetic  driving  multitude, 
was  profoundly  and  favorably  impressed  with  the  scenes 
which  he  witnessed. 

The  business  activity  of  Port-au-Prince  is  very  remark- 
able, and  it  is  there  that  one  is  impressed  with  the  extent 
as  well  as  the  value  of  the  commerce  of  even  this  small 
territory,  with  ill  advised  and  insufficient  cultivation.  And 
when  one  witnesses  the  character  of  the  shipping  of  its 
harbor,  its  capacity  and  nationality,  he  can  but  be  impressed 
with  the  fact  that  the  leading  nations  value  its  commerce  in 
such  manner  and  to  such  extent  as  to  be  determined  to 
seeks  its  division,  if  it  be  impossible  for  any  one  of  them  to 
gain  it  wholly.  The  great  ships  that  fly  the  British,  the 
French,  the  German,  the  Russian,  the  Austrian,  the  Danish, 
the  Norwegian  and  the  American  flags,  not  to  mention 
others,  are  often  found  anchored  in  this  chief  harbor  of  the 
nation,  each  bent  on  vying  with  every  other,  though  in 
friendly  competition,  for  cargoes  calculated  to  supply  its 
home  markets.  The  chief  staples  of  the  country  are  log- 
wood, hides,  sugar,  cotton,  honey  and  coffee.  The  former 
is  mainly  exported  to  the  United  States,  and  the  latter  sold 
principally  in  European  markets. 

No  one  may  infer  from  anything  already  stated,  even  in 
view  of  the  accumulated  products  found  in  Port-au-Prince, 
that  there  is  anything  like  a  well-regulated,  progressive 
agricultural  system  of  industry  in  Haiti.  Whatever  is  pro- 
duced there  now  seems  to  be  rather  the  fruit  of  natural, 
spontaneous  growth.  No  such  cultivation  of  the  soil  is 
found  as  in  the  earlier  and  more  prosperous  conditions  of 
the  island.  Were  the  people  to  adopt  a  system  of  wise  and 
efficient  agriculture  it  would  be  difficult  to  limit  the  extent, 
quantity  and  value  of  the  rich  products  which  would 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO   HAITI.  367 

repay  their  industry.  The  coffee-orchards  properly  cared 
for  would  yield  fabulous  quantities  of  this  valuable  staple, 
and  the  sugar-plantations  as  well-attended  would  prove  to 
be  sources  of  incalculable  wealth.  The  cultivation  of 
cotton  and  logwood,  made  subjects  of  wise  industrial  man- 
agement, would  also  add  largely  to  the  general  wealth  of 
the  island. 

It  is  a  matter  of  surprise  that  a  country  of  such  easy  cul- 
tivation, and  so  productive  even  in  its  neglect,  belonging  to 
a  people  who  know  its  value  and  capability  and  who  ought 
to  be  able  to  appreciate  their  own  condition,  is  not  culti- 
vated with  greater  wisdom  and  thoroughness,  so  as  to  make 
it  produce  in  fair  if  not  abundant  measure  those  things 
which  in  the  markets  of  the  world  are  highly  estimated, 
because  in  constant  demand.  This  condition  of  things  can 
be  accounted  for  only  in  one  of  three  ways.  First,  that  the 
people  dislike  the  labor  needed  in  the  cultivation  of  the 
soil.  Or,  secondly,  that  they  are  so  occupied  with  other 
things  that  they  cannot  give  attention  to  such  labor.  Or, 
finally,  that  they  do  not  value  and  appreciate  the  results 
connected  with  the  wise  and  intelligent  cultivation  of  their 
lands.  All  these  reasons  are  given  at  different  times,  by 
different  persons  acquainted  with  the  subject,  in  explana- 
tion of  the  condition  of  agricultural  affairs  in  the  country. 
Whatever  may  be  the  cause  it  is  a  fact  that  the  Haytian,  as 
a  rule,  does  not  turn  his  attention  to  the  cultivation  of  the 
soil.  And  it  is  also  a  fact  that  no  president  of  the  republic, 
however  anxious  he  may  have  been  ;  however  willing  to 
secure  large  special  government  appropriations  to  that  end, 
has  been  able  to  induce  any  considerable  number  of  his 
countrymen  to  turn  their  attention  to  agriculture  and  its 
benefits,  so  as  to  lead  them  to  cultivate  with  anything  like 
large  advantage  their  own  plantations. 

It  was  Jeffrad,  the  president  of  the  republic  succeeding 
Soulouque,  noted  no  more  for  his  patriotism  than  for  his 
general  knowledge  of  the  best  interests  of  his  country,  who 
undertook  to  demonstrate  to  his  people  the  great  impor- 
tance and  profit  of  improving  their  industrial  pursuits  as 


368       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

regarded  their  agriculture.  To  do  this  he  established  in  the 
plains  of  the  Cul-de-Sac,  three  miles  from  the  capital,  a 
model  national  plantation,  where  all  necessary  buildings, 
machinery,  implements  and  improved  methods  of  cultiva- 
tion were  adopted  by  him  and  his  advisers.  He  spared  in 
this  enterprise  no  needed  outlay,  and  besides  employing  a 
skillful  superintendent,  gave  constant  attention  to  it  him- 
self. He  had  no  sooner  however  been  deposed  and  driven 
from  his  country  than  his  countrymen,  who  ought  to  have 
taken  interest  in  this  movement  and  aided  to  the  extent  of 
their  ability  in  giving  it  success,  began  the  work  of  its 
utter  destruction.  And  before  Jeffrad  had  died,  while  in 
exile'at  Kingston,  Jamaica,  the  destruction  had  been  made 
so  complete  that  there  was  hardly  any  evidence  in  building, 
machinery,  or  otherwise,  left  to  tell  of  any  good  results 
which  had  come  of  that  enterprise.  The  canals,  even, 
established  for  irrigating  purposes,  conducting  the  water 
from  neighboring  mountain  streams  across  the  plantation, 
had  been  entirely  destroyed  and  all  left  in  utter  and  fright- 
ful ruin. 

Nor  is  the  Haytian  connected,  in  large  numbers,  with  the 
heavier,  more  important  conditions  of  the  commerce  of  his 
country.  Many  of  them  are  engaged  in  small  mercantile 
business.  Now  and  then  one  finds  a  large  Haytian  house 
doing  a  good  trade.  Often  Haytian  women  are  found  en- 
gaged in  trade  even  of  considerable  character  and  profit. 
The  heavier  parts  of  Haytian  commerce  and  trade  are 
found,  however,  in  the  hands  of  foreigners  and  under  their 
control,  chiefly  of  Frenchmen,  Germans,  Englishmen  and 
Americans.  The  Haytian  seems  rather  to  be  given  to  mat- 
ters of  political,  official,  military  and  professional  character, 
particularly  medical  and  legal.  For  ordinary  purposes  it 
would  be  found  quite  difficult  to  secure  the  services  of  any 
Haytian,  youth  or  adult.  Ilaytians  are  wont  to  employ 
for  menial  and  domestic  duties  foreigners  who  come  to 
their  country  from  the  neighboring  islands — chiefly  men 
and  women  from  Jamaica  and  St.  Thomas.  This  condi- 
tion of  things  is  quite  apparent  as  one  reaches  and  moves 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  369 

about  Port-au-Prince.  One  exception  to  this  statement, 
touching  domestic  service,  of  remarkable  and  striking  char- 
acter, should  be  noted.  It  is  that  washing  and  ironing, 
done  in  the  most  primitive  though  often  most  excellent 
manner,  are  confined  quite  entirely  to  Haytian  women. 
The  washing,  which  consumes  fabulous  quantities  of  soap, 
is  always  done  in  a  stream  of  running  water,  and  by  rub- 
bing the  clothing  in  the  hands  ordinarily  ;  but  when  heavy 
and  more  thoroughly  soiled,  the  washerwomen  often  place 
the  pieces  upon  a  stone,  in  the  stream,  and  pound  them 
with  a  wooden  paddle.  While  this  process  may  be  wearing 
upon  the  clothes,  washing  in  Haiti  is  pronounced  by  all  ac- 
quainted with  the  subject  as  being  well  done.  Of  course, 
women  who  seat  themselves  in  the  streams  to  do  this  work 
dress  in  scantiest  possible  attire.  They  never  do  any  iron- 
ing lest  they  take  cold.  Others,  who  never  wash,  attend  to 
and  do  that  service.  Perhaps  nothing  strikes  the  stranger, 
particularly  the  American,  arousing  his  curiosity  and  in- 
terest more  thoroughly  than  the  sight  of  a  large  company 
of  Haytian  women  seated  in  a  stream  of  water,  one  above 
the  other,  at  reasonable  distances  apart,  as  far  as  the  eye 
can  reach,  scantily  dressed,  with  the  limbs  and  sometimes 
other  portions  of  the  body  exposed,  hard  at  work  upon 
their  tasks.  It  was  in  passing  to  and  fro  from  his  residence 
to  the  city,  that  Mr.  Langston  was  wont  to  witness  this 
curious  and  remarkable  spectacle. 

The  population  of  Port-au-Prince  is  between  thirty  and 
forty  thousand.  The  residences  are  many  of  them  well 
built  for  a  tropical  city.  The  business-houses,  many  of 
them  are  large,  constructed  of  substantial  materials  and 
made  fire-proof.  The  streets,  crossing  each  other  at  right- 
angles,  running  north  and  south  and  east  and  west,  are,  in 
many  respects,  while  without  the  regular  pavement  so  well 
known  in  the  cities  of  the  United  States,  of  fair  width, 
well  drained  and  kept  in  such  condition  as  to  make  them 
easy  of  passage  for  pedestrian  or  teams.  Some  of  the  streets 
too  are  made  beautiful  by  ornamental  shade-trees,  which  in  a 
hot  climate  and  city  are  often  found  very  grateful.  The 


370       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

breezes,  land  and  sea,  which  in  a  normal  condition  of  the 
atmosphere  prevail  with  great  regularity  in  Haiti,  are  partic- 
ularly felt  and  enjoyed  at  Port-au-Prince.  Indeed,  nothing 
so  quickly  attracts  the  attention  and  commands  the  admira- 
tion and  gratitude  of  the  stranger  as  these  breezes.  The 
land  breeze  prevailing  for  the  first  twelve  hours  of  the  day, 
cool  and  refreshing  as  it  always  is,  is  succeeded,  beginning 
at  twelve  o'clock  precisely  in  the  day,  by  the  sea-breeze, 
which  while  it  proves  to  be  a  perfect  disinfectant,  is  stimu- 
lating and  strengthing  to  every  one  in  most  sensible  and 
affecting  manner. 

The  highest  and  best  society  of  the  country  is  found  at 
the  capital;  for  besides  the  government  officials,  the  judges 
and  prominent  members  of  the  Bar,  together  with  the  dis- 
tinguished professors  and  instructors  of  the  schools,  the 
archbishop  and  chief  officers  of  the  church,  and  the  repre- 
sentatives of  all  foreign  governments  reside  there.  Into 
this  society  the  new  American  minister  was  very  shortly 
introduced  through  the  kindness  of  his  friends,  and  found 
his  experiences  in  that  behalf  congenial  and  agreeable. 
While  he  was  unable  in  the  beginning  to  speak  the 
language  of  the  country,  he  found  the  society  of  the  city 
composed  of  so  many  foreign  elements  using  the  English 
language,  that  he  was  able  to  make  himself  quite  at  home 
even  from  the  very  first.  Furthermore,  his  secretary  was 
so  much  the  master  of  the  French  and  Spanish  languages 
and  was  so  attentive  to  the  minister,  that  he  found  little 
embarrassment  in  even  social  life,  for  Mr.  Lazare  was 
always  present  and  ready  to  translate  and  interpret  for  him. 
It  is  hardly  necessary  to  state  here  that  the  inhabitants  of 
Haiti,  so  far  as  the  Haytians  themselves  are  concerned,  are 
chiefly  black  people.  They  are  of  delicate  and  refined 
physical  as  well  as  mental  make  ;  not  ashamed  of  their 
complexion,  nor  apprehensive  of  their  equal  ability  with 
any  other  class  of  people.  Perhaps  in  no  negro  population, 
numbering  between  six  hundred  thousand  and  one  million 
souls,  can  one  find  as  few  mixed  bloods  as  in  Haiti.  While 
the  French  people  supplied  them  language,  religion,  law, 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  371 

and  many  ordinary  habits  and  customs,  they  did  not  suc- 
ceed to  anything  like  a  large  degree  in  mixing  their  blood. 

When  Mr.  Langston  arrived  at  Port-au-Prince,  in  Novem- 
ber, 1877,  Boirond-Canal  was  president  of  the  republic,  with 
the  Hon.  H.  Carrie  his  secretary  of  state  of  foreign  rela- 
tions. The  reception  given  him  by  these  officers  of  the  gov- 
ernment at  the  national  palace,  very  shortly  after  his  arrival, 
in  the  presence  of  the  whole  cabinet  and  other  noted  officials, 
was  cordial,  being  characterized  by  marks  of  unusual  consid- 
ation.  The  National  Band  with  a  detachment  of  the  National 
Guards  affording  appropriate  music  and  doing  military  duty 
on  the  occasion,  in  honor  of  the  new  American  minister  and 
his  government,  signalized  and  distinguished  his  official  rec- 
ognition. The  president  gave  the  new  minister  upon  his 
introduction  by  his  retiring  predecessor,  the  warmest  and 
most  respectful  audience,  and  upon  the  conclusion  of  his  re- 
marks, such  welcome  to  the  confidence  and  consideration  of 
the  government  and  the  people  in  his  capacity  as  representa- 
tive of  the  American  Republic,  as.  to  insure  him  a  happy  and 
useful  residence  in  the  Black  Republic  of  the  West  Indies. 
Thus  it  was  rendered  possible  and  practicable  for  him  to 
secure  just  attention  and  determination  of  every  matter 
which  he  might  have  to  present  to  the  government,  in  the 
name  of  any  American  citizen;  while  he  maintained 
good  understanding  and  amicable  relations  with  the  nation  to 
which  he  was  accredited. 

An  incident  of  rare  character  and  interest  which  marked 
the  reception  given  Mr.  Langston  by  President  Canal  de- 
serves special  note.  The  minister  had  observed  the  portraits 
of  John  Brown  and  Charles  Sumner  hanging  upon  the  walls 
of  the  palace,  in  the  large  and  beautifully  decorated  audience 
chamber,  and  he  very  well  understood  how  the  negro  patriots 
and  the  people  of  Haiti  generally  esteemed  them  both. 
The  likeness  of  the  latter  was  life-size  and  a  painting  of 
striking  excellence  and  beauty.  The  senator  was  himself 
truthfully  portrayed  in  it ;  so  aptly  that  the  very  words  which 
he  was  wont  to  employ  in  defence  of  negro  liberty  seemed 
lingering  upon  his  tongue  and  lips.  The  picture  had  been 


372       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

purchased  by  the  Haytian  government  of  the  American 
artist  whose  creation  it  was,  at  unusual  expense,  and  it  was 
greatly  prized.  In  his  address  Mr.  Langston  had  made  allu- 
sion to  Senator  Sumner,  assuring  the  president  that  the 
friendship  of  that  person,  which  he  possessed,  was  one  of 
the  pledges  which  he  offered  of  his  amicable  feelings  and 
purpose  toward  the  Haytian  government,  at  the  same  time 
directing  attention  to  the  likeness  by  his  gesture.  Where- 
upon the  president,  leaving  his  seat  upon  a  raised  platform 
arranged  for  the  occasion,  as  surrounded  by  his  full  cabinet 
and  supported  by  a  large  company  of  distinguished  officers, 
civil  and  military,  approaching  Mr.  Langston  and  feel- 
ingly offering  him  his  right  hand,  kissed  him  upon  either 
cheek,  while  he  declared  "that  his  government  and  his  peo- 
ple would  ever  treat  the  friend  of  Sumner  with  the  kindest 
and  most  abiding  consideration."  This  salutation  and  treat- 
ment were  justly  considered  a  manifestation  of  the  most  pro- 
found and  affecting  expression  of  exalted  personal  esteem, 
so  far  as  the  minister  was  concerned,  and  special  friendly, 
even  fraternal  respect  for  his  government.  As  the  American 
minister  left  the  palace  the  National  Band  played  in  his 
honor  the  air  of  the  famous  "John  Brown  song."  The 
Haytian  people  loved  John  Brown  because  he  stuck,  against 
every  odds,  for  the  freedom  of  the  slaves  of  the  United 
States.  They  would  immortalize  the  name  of  Charles  Sum- 
ner, because,  besides  being  the  bold,  fearless,  eloquent 
champion  of  negro  liberty,  he  opposed  the  annexation  of 
Santo  Domingo  to  the  United  States,  thus  maintaining  as 
they  believed  in  important  sense  and  manner  the  integrity 
of  their  territory  and  the  perpetuity  of  their  government. 
Among  the  noted  men  met  almost  immediately  on  his 
arrival  in  Port-au-Prince,  certainly  within  a  very  few  days 
after  his  recognition  by  President  Canal,  were  several  leaders 
of  the  country  distinguished  either  in  connection  with  its 
business,  its  politics,  its  professions,  its  scholarship,  its  learn- 
ing or  its  religion.  Conspicuous  among  these  characters  were 
Messrs.  Bazlais,  Paul,  Price,  Manigat,  Lespinasse,  Lubin, 
Miott,  Montasse,  Audain,  Pradine,  Thebeau,  De"lorme, 


APPOINTED  MINISTER  TO  HAITI.  373 

Etheart,  Ludecke,  Keitel,  Tweedy,  Peters,  Weymann, 
Bishop  James  T.  Holly,  Rev.  C.  M.  Mossell,  Captain  Cutts 
and  Dr.  John  B.  Terres.  In  addition  to  these  gentlemen, 
representative  in  the  sense  indicated,  the  diplomatic  and  con- 
sular corps,  with  Major  Stewart  as  its  dean,  composed  such 
elements  of  general  interest  and  influence  in  the  social 
life  of  the  capital  as  to  make  even  a  stranger  feel  quite  at 
home  among  them,  especially  one  who  must  now  join  them 
in  the  consideration  and  decision  of  important  and  exalted 
matters  of  international  character.  Of  the  Haytian  gentle- 
men who  deserve  in  this  connection  special  notice  by  reason 
of  their  conspicuous  positions  respectively,  and  their  com- 
manding influence,  must  be  mentioned  Boyer,  Bazlais,  Lin- 
stant,  Pradine,  J.  J.  Audain,  and  M.  Delorme.  The  first 
of  these  persons  was  recognized  by  all  among  well-informed 
Haytians  as  a  political  leader  of  great  ability,  of  unwonted 
magnetism  and  power,  as  brave  as  he  was  eloquent,  learned 
in  the  English  as  well  as  the  French  language,  who  had  won 
as  a  parlimentary  orator  a  name  of  renown  and  fame.  The 
second  was  noted  as  being  the  ablest  and  most  successful 
lawyer  of  the  Haytian  Bar.  His  opinion  on  professional 
matters  as  expressed  in  addresses  to  the  court  or  otherwise 
was  regarded  by  his  fellow  attorneys  as  authoritative  and 
final.  A  man  of  extended  European  travel  and  large  in- 
formation of  American  affairs,  with  general  knowledge  of 
the  United  States,  its  laws  and  institutions,  he  was  liberal 
as  well  as  cultured,  discovering  always  great  admiration  for 
the  progress  and  advancement  of  the  American  people,  in 
whose  government  he  entertained  profound  and  constant 
interest.  The  third  person,  Mr.  Audain,  was  a  representa- 
tive of  the  business  capacity,  perseverance  and  success  of 
the  Haytian  himself.  He  always  maintained  high  position 
in  credit,  influence  and  name  among  the  business  men  <>f 
his  own  country,  and  the  merchants  with  whom  he  had  re- 
lations in  Europe  and  the  United  States  of  America.  Mr. 
Delorme  occupied  high  place  among  the  people  of  his  coun- 
try as  the  representative  of  letters  and  science.  In  that  re- 
gard he  had  won,  at  home  and  abroad,  an  enviable  promi- 


374       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

nence.  Indeed,  it  would  be  difficult  to  find  among  any  class 
of  persons  speaking  the  French  language  many  who  had 
not  read  several  of  the  works,  fictitious  or  scientific,  of  this 
famous  Haytian  author.  It  was  through  the  very  kind  con- 
siderate offices  of  the  Hon.  E.  D.  Bassett  that  Mr.  Langston 
was  so  promptly  introduced  to  these  famous  Haytian 
celebrities  and  won  their  lasting  friendship. 

The  institutions  of  the  capital,  the  great  churches,  Cath- 
olic and  Protestant,  the  schools  and  colleges,  parochial  and 
other,  the  Masonic  and  charitable  organizations,  the  govern- 
ment buildings,  including  the  palace,  with  conveniences  for 
movement  about  the  city  in  public  conveyances,  carriages 
and  tramway,  with  hotel  accommodations  and  market  facili- 
ties, were  found  to  be  ample  and  suitable.  In  this  capital, 
with  such  friends  and  associates  of  character  and  culture, 
in  a  tropical  country  of  great  richness  and  beauty,  and  in 
the  midst  of  a  black  nationality,  the  American  minister, 
newly  arrived  and  recognized,  entered  upon  his  duties  with 
no  little  Mat 


CHAPTER  XXIV. 

THE  LEGATION  AND  RESIDENCE  OF  THE  AMERICAN  MIN- 
ISTER AND  HIS  DIPLOMATIC  AND  CONSULAR  SERVICES 
AND  ACHIEVEMENTS. 

ON  his  arrival  at  Port-au-Prince  Mr.  Langston  found  that 
the  American  Legation,  as  located,  established  and  fur- 
nished, was  neither  in  appearance  nor  dignity  what  he  felt 
it  ought  to  be.  He  proceeded  therefore,  at  once,  to  make 
other  and  improved  arrangements  in  this  respect.  He 
realized  that  a  great  government  like  his  own  should  find 
its  sovereignty,  power  and  glory  housed  in  quarters  worthy 
of  its  character  and  name,  and  to  that  end  he  exerted 
himself  in  prompt  and  special  effort. 

Such  a  property,  situated  upon  the  Rue  Pave\  in  the  central 
portion  of  the  city  and  belonging  to  an  American  citizen, 
commanded  a  view  of  the  surrounding  country  and  was 
in  such  near  neighborhood  of  the  palace,  the  residence  of 
the  president,  the  government  offices,  the  main  business 
part  of  the  city,  the  custom  house  and  the  port,  as  to  make 
it  in  every  sense  more  desirable  than  any  other  in  the 
capital. 

It  was  at  Sans  Sonet — the  place  whose  name  is  so  unique 
and  expressive — "without  care" — that  the  American  min- 
ister at  once  established  and  spent  the  greater  part  of  his 
time  while  he  remained  in  the  beautiful  Island  Republic. 
There  at  his  own  home,  which  was  enjoyed  as  it  was  appre- 
ciated by  all  concerned,  he  received  and  entertained  not  only 

375 


376       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

his  own  citizens,  resident  of  the  republic,  or  sojourning  there 
on  errands  of  pleasure  or  business,  but  all  visitors,  Haytian 
or  other,  who  honored  him  with  calls,  for  the  most  part 
social  merely,  occasionally  ceremonious.  It'  was  here  too 
that  he  gave  several  of  his  earlier  receptions,  when  his 
associates  of  the  diplomatic  and  consular  corps,  with  dis- 
tinguished officials  of  the  government,  including  the  presi- 
dent of  the  republic,  honored  him  by  their  presence  in 
acceptance  of  his  hospitality  and  entertainment. 

On  the  fourth  day  of  July,  1878,  the  first  anniversary  of 
American  Independence  following  his  arrival  in  the  country, 
Mr.  Langston  had  that  occurrence  noted  and  signalized  in 
a  reception  given  by  him  at  his  residence.  Every  member 
of  the  diplomatic  and  consular  corps  was  invited  and 
attended,  together  with  a  large  number  of  the  most  prom- 
inent government  officials,  including  the  president  and  the 
members  of  his  cabinet.  The  dinner  given  was  American 
in  every  feature — improved  somewhat  by  the  large  use  of 
tropical  additions  in  meats,  vegetables  and  fruits — and  dis- 
covered in  the  generous  provision  made  in  connection  with 
it  the  cordial  and  liberal  hospitality  with  which  the  dis- 
tinguished guests  were  received  and  treated.  According  to 
special  arrangement  there  followed  the  dinner  sentiments 
upon  which  remarks  pertinent  to  the  occasion  and  circum- 
stances were  made  by  several  of  the  more  prominent  per- 
sons present,  including  the  president  of  the  republic  and 
the  representatives  of  the  German,  the  French,  the  Spanish, 
the  Dominican  and  the  British  governments. 

The  company  was  large  and  representative  ;  and  the  ex- 
pressions had,  whatever  the  sentiment  upon  which  remarks 
were  made  or  the  person  speaking,  were  friendly  and  eulo- 
gistic of  the  United  States  government,  the  progress  of  the 
nation,  its  free  institutions  and  its  people.  The  remarks  of 
the  representative  of  the  British  Government  reflected  in 
apt  and  striking  manner  the  feelings  of  everyone  present, 
and  received  upon  their  delivery  enthusiastic  approval  and 
applause.  The  address,  in  view  of  this  fact,  is  here  given. 
The  American  minister  had  proposed  the  sentiment  "  The 


DIPLOMATIC  AND  CONSULAR  SERVICES.          377 

Queen  of   England,  Empress  of  India,"  when   Major  Steu 
art,    her  Britannic  majesty's  minister,  dean  of    the    diplo- 
matic corps,  responding,  spoke  as  follows  : 

"I  have  listened  with  heart-felt  gratification  to  the  gracious  words  just 
uttered  by  the  honorable  gentleman,  my  American  colleague,  at  whose  hospit 
able  board  we  are  now,  under  such  happy  circumstances,  met,  and  right  glad  I 
am  that  there  are  so  many  present  who  understand  the  language  in  which  he  has 
spoken,  for  depend  upon  it,  his  words  will  somehow  or  other  find  their  echo 
far  beyond  the  precincts  of  the  gallery  where  we  are  sitting. 

"  In  common  we  must  all  have  admired  the  dignified  and  poetic  eloquence  of 
our  host ;  but  you  could  not  all  have  felt  as  I  do,  and  as  my  compatriots  at 
the  table  feel,  the  impressive  force  of  what  he  has  said  respecting  our  Queen, 
our  countrymen,  and — suppose  a  long  drawn  interval — respecting  myself,  Her 
Majesty's  agent  in  these  parts,  and  the  organ  of  Her  Majesty's  Government. 

"Nature  has  not  bestowed  on  me,  nor  have  I  acquired  by  study,  such  elo- 
quence as  we  have  just  been  listening  to,  eloquence  that,  like  eolian  music, 
charms  the  ear  and  would  often  lead  captive  the  reason.  I  am  not  going  to 
make  the  vain  attempt  of  imitating  such  eloquence;  but  I  would  ask  you  to 
lend  me  your  ears  for  a  few  minutes  while  I  try,  in  a  homely  way,  to  return 
thanks  for  the  toast  so  handsomely  proposed  and  so  cordially  accepted  by  you 
all.  Believe  me  when  I  tell  you  that  my  words  will  express  my  own  genuine 
sentiments,  and,  if  I  am  not  strangely  mistaken,  those  of  my  countrymen  in 
general. 

"  First  then,  let  me  affirm  that  Hei  Britannic  Majesty  fully  deserves  the  high 
eulogiums  of  our  eloquent  host.  In  the  eyes  of  her  subjects  that  distinguished 
Lady  possesses  all  the  qualities  of  a  great  Sovereign,  and,  what  they  do  not 
less  prize,  all  the  graces  and  virtues  that  adorn  woman  in  the  social  and 
domestic  circles. 

'•  Yes,  the  English  do  love  and  reverence  their  Queen,  although  to  most  of 
them  she  is  but  an  ideal  personage,  an  unseen  abstraction  of  exalted  greatness. 
But  that  greatness, — and  herein  lies  a  strong  principle — is  felt  to  be  their 
greatness  too;  the  Queen,  in  fact,  is  the  crowning  point  of  the  pyramid  of  our 
institutions  and  social  system,  the  material  center,  to  use  another  simile, 
towards  which  all  out  feelings  of  nationality  converge.  Queen  Victoria  ha.-, 
already  been  forty  years  our  Sovereign  ;  I  think  we  have  done  pretty  well  un- 
der her;  and  our  prayer  is  that  she  may  still  live  long  to  reign  over  us. 

"  God  save  the  Queen. 

"  But  it  is  not  of  their  Queen  alone  that  the  English  are  proud.  Speak- 
ing figuratively,  nations,  like  individuals,  sometimes  beget  their  like.  England 
is  very  prolific  in  that  way,  as  may  be  seen  by  the  number  of  her  colonies  es- 
tablished in  different  parts  of  the  world.  Her  eldest  colony  is  now  the  great 
Republic  of  the  United  States,  and  this  day  we  commemorate,  not  the  birth. of 
the  colony,  but  the  birth  of  the  free  and  independent  state  into  which  that  col- 
ony by  natural  development  was  changed  as  the  butterfly  is  from  the  chrysalis. 

"  The  birth  was  perhaps  somewhat  painful  and  forced  ;  but  no  birth  is  with- 
out pain  and  many  births  require  force.  However  that  may  be,  England,  like 
the  mother  of  Scripture,  now  rejoices  that  a  man  child  was  born — I  still  speak 


378       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

figuratively — and  again  rejoices  to  see  that  man  child  grown  to  giant  propor- 
tions and  Herculean  strength. 

"The  bantling  state  numbered  some  three  millions  when,  one  hundred  and 
two  years  ago  this  day,  it  proclaimed  its  independent  individuality.  It  now 
numbers  forty-six  millions,  and  it  is  increasing  at  the  rate  of  a  million  a 
year. 

"  If  the  United  States  are  now  great,  and  great  they  are,  what  will  they  be  a 
few  score  years  hence — but  we  must  leave  it  to  tlie  future  to  tell  its  own  story. 

"  It  must  be  noted  that  the  numerical  statistics  of  a  people  exhibit  only  the 
raw  material  of  that  people's  force :  for  we  know  that  the  primitive  force  ex- 
pressed by  numbers,  may  be  almost  indefinitely  multiplied  by  the  applications 
of  science.  See,  for  instance,  to  what  degree  a  man's  effective  strength  is 
increased  by  the  use  of  a  pulley.  Well,  in  no  country  in  the  world,  is  science 
more  effectively  or  generally  employed  in  multiplying  human  force  than  in  the 
United  States.  So  that  a  million  of  Americans  are  worth  much  more  than  a 
million  of  some  other  nations ;  and  we  all  know  that  they  are  every  day  im- 
proving in  practical  value.  Now,  these  are  the  people  with  whom  we  English 
are  in  close  family  relationship.  On  our  side  the  relationship  is  commonly  desig- 
nated cousinship.  I  do  not  know  how  it  is  designated  on  their  side  ;  but 
leaving  that  apart,  I  believe  our  common  wish  is,  to  live  in  reciprocal  good  fel- 
lowship, working  out  together  in  noble  rivalry  the  great  ends  of  human  progress 
and  intellectual  development.  It  would  indeed  be  a  sad  thing  for  the  world  if 
we  were  to  follow  hostile  and  conflicting  courses;  for  a  difference  between 
England  and  the  United  States  carried  out  to  the  bitter  end,  would  not  cause 
less  disorder  and  confusion  in  the  world  than  the  displacement  of  the  equator 
or  the  uprooting  of  the  poles — while,  on  the  other  hand,  England  and  the 
United  States,  resolutely  marching  forward  hand  in  hand,  in  the  way  of  peace, 
may  do  much  to  prepare  the  world  for  that  blessed  time  when,  as  we  are  taught 
to  hope,  wars  shall  cease,  the  sword  shall  be  turned  into  a  ploughshare,  and 
the  lion  shall  lie  down  with  the  lamb." 

The  service  which  was  organized  in  the  legation  under 
Mr.  Langston's  direction,  as  the  minister-resident  and  con- 
sul-general of  the  United  States,  was  as  his  official  designa- 
tion indicates,  diplomatic  and  consular.  As  a  consular 
officer  he  was  required  to  supervise,  direct  and  perform  two 
branches  of  service,  the  one  as  consul-general,  his  district  in 
such  respect  embracing  all  the  open  ports  of  the  republic  in 
which  his  government  had  established  agencies ;  and  as  con- 
sul, having  charge  of  all  those  matters  which  pertain  to  that 
officer  in  the  port  of  Port-au-Prince.  In  fact  he  was  re- 
quired to  do  the  work  of  the  diplomat,  the  consul-general, 
and  the  consul  of  his  government.  When  established  in  his 
new  quarters  he  organized  and  adjusted  his  forces  to  that 
state  of  the  service.  In  addition  to  the  force  of  which  he 


DIPLOMATIC  AND  CONSULAR  SERVICES.          379 

found  himself  possessed,  as  respected  himself  and  his  private 
secretary,  he  secured  the  appointment  of  Dr.  John  B.  Terres 
as  vice  consul-general  of  the  United  States,  and  in  that 
character  had  him  recognized  by  the  Haytian  government. 

Besides  organizing  his  service  in  this  manner  for  efficient 
work,  Mr.  Langston  at  once  put  himself  in  such  relations 
and  communication  with  his  subordinate  consular  officers  as 
to  improve  and  facilitate. his  business  beyond  any  degree 
hitherto  attained.  The  result  was  that  very  many  defects 
therein  were  soon  discovered  and  correction  and  improve- 
ment adopted.  In  some  instances,  for  example,  a  wrong 
construction  and  interpretation  had  been  put  upon  certain 
provisions  of  Haytian  law  with  respect  to  navigation,  and 
under  this  misunderstanding  the  enforcement  thereof  was 
had  to  the  serious  annoyance  and  wrong  of  American  ship- 
masters and  owners.  More  than  this,  in  one  or  two  cases 
laws  had  been  passed  providing  for  the  levy  and  collection 
of  duties  in  United  States  ports,  as  well  as  others,  upon  ex- 
ports destined  to  Hai'ti  ;  which  regulations,  wholly  illegal, 
wrought  in  important  sense  obstruction  and  hindrance  in 
trade  and  navigation.  To  illustrate  the  first  condition  of 
things  mentioned,  not  many  months  after  Mr.  Langston  had 
entered  upon  his  duties  he  had  reported  to  him  five  Ameri- 
can sailing  vessels  recently  arrived  from  several  foreign  ports 
to  that  of  Miragoane,  and  that  each  was  fined  fifty  dol- 
lars for  what  was  termed  a  breach  of  the  law,  in  that  they 
had  not  had  their  papers  properly  certified  by  a  Haytian 
consular  officer  in  the  foreign  port  from  which  they  had 
come  ;  when  as  a  matter  of  fact  there  was  no  Haytian  con- 
sular officer  residing  in  that  port  and  the  captain  of  the  ship 
had  done  all  that  was  required  in  having  his  papers  certified 
by  a  notary  public.  These  ships  had  been  fined  under  an 
old  view  of  the  law  and  under  a  perverted  custom,  neither 
of  which  would  bear  the  test  of  proper  knowledge,  or  sound 
judgment  ;  and  when  the  attention  of  the  proper  officer  of 
the  Haytian  government  was  called  to  the  subject  in  intelli- 
gent, vigorous  manner,  correction  was  promptly  made,  with 
the  fines  returned,  and  the  correct  rule  thereafter  pursued. 


380       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

As  illustrating  more  fully  the  other  condition  of  things  re- 
ferred to,  the  Haytian  law  provided  that  when  a  bill  of  mer- 
chandise was  purchased  in  New  York,  or  any  other  place  in 
the  United  States,  to  be  shipped  to  Port-au-Prince  or  other 
open  port,  for  sale  in  Haiti,  or  otherwise,  before  such  mer- 
chandise could  be  shipped  the  consular  officer  of  the  Hay- 
tian government  residing  in  the  place  of  purchase  should 
collect  one  per  cent,  of  the  value  of  the  goods,  a  portion  of 
which  he  was  allowed  to  retain  for  his  services,  while  he 
made  credit  of  the  balance  to  his  government.  The  United 
States  consul-g'eneral  addressed  himself  with  vigor  and 
purpose  to  the  matter  of  securing  the  repeal  of  this  law; 
and  after  bringing  the  subject  fully  both  to  the  attention  of 
his  own  government  and  that  of  Hai'ti,  by  the  combined  in- 
fluence and  power  which  he  was  able  to  exert  under  the 
instructions  of  his  own  government  as  a  diplomat  and  con- 
sular officer,  he  accomplished  the  repeal  of  the  law  and  freed 
American  trade  and  shipping  from  its  illegal  and  unjust 
exactions. 

Up  to  the  time  that  the  United  States  consular  service  in 
Haiti  was  thus  reorganized  and  rendered  efficient,  it  ap- 
peared to  be,  as  it  was,  utterly  lifeless.  Not  even  had  an 
annual  consular  commercial  report  ever  been  made,  of  con- 
sequence and  value,  from  that  country  to  the  United  States 
government.  In  presenting  formally  to  the  United  States 
Congress  the  commercial  conditions  of  its  own  and  foreign 
countries  as  related  to  each  other  in  their  trade,  in  speaking 
of  Mr.  Langston's  commercial  report  for  1878,  under  the 
title  of  Haiti,  the  secretary  of  state,  the  Hon.  William  M. 
Evarts,  employs  the  following  expressions  : 

"  A  very  interesting  report,  and  all  the  more  interesting  as  being  the  first  of 
any  consequence  received  from  that  republic,  is  herewith  submitted  from 
Consul-General  Langston,  at  Port-au-Prince,  on  the  natural  features,  laws,  reli- 
gion, population,  agriculture  and  general  trade,  of  Hayti. 

"  According  to  this  report  the  importations  of  Hayti,  for  the  year  ending 
June  30,  1878,  amounted  to  $8,007,321,  and  the  exports  to  $8,234,687,  showing 
a  small  balance  of  trade  in  favor  of  the  republic. 

"The  importations  consist  of  dry  goods,  ready-made  clothing,  soaps,  imple- 
ments of  industry  (such  as  hoes,  axes,  machetes,  picks)  ordinary  hardware, 


DIPLOMATIC  AND  CONSULAR  SERVICES.          381 

drugs,  medicines,  crockery,  lumber,  marble,  coal,  carriages,  brick,  butter, 
cheese,  lard,  flour,  sugar,  groceries,  codfish,  provisions,  and  liquors.  The 
importations  are  chiefly  from  the  United  States,  France,  England  and  Ger- 
many. The  consul-general  notes  the  introduction  of  certain  articles  of  dry 
goods  from  the  United  States  and  their  growing  popularity. 

"  The  trade  with  the  United  States  for  the  year  under  review,  was  as 
follows : 

"Importations,  $2,608,000;  exportations,  $2,785,000;  being  almost  one- 
third  of  the  total  trade  of  Hayti. 

"The  principal  articles  of  import  from  the  United  States  consist  of  the  fol- 
lowing articles,  of  which  it  may  be  said  that  they  almost  monopolize  the 
market :  provisions,  tobacco,  soap,  and  hardware  (such  as  nails,  axes,  shovels, 
hoes,  and  printing  materials). 

"With  the  introduction  of  cotton  manufactures  aud  other  articles  of  mer- 
chandise, and  their  growing  popularity,  it  is  thought  that  our  trade  with  Hayti 
can  be  very  much  increased." 

It  is  true  that  by  the  wise  management  of  the  consular 
officers  of  the  United  States  government,  under  the  direc- 
tion of  the  consul-general  as  located  in  the  the  open  ports 
of  the  republic,  special  impulse  was  given  to  trade  with 
their  country  and  its  importance  and  value  greatly 
enhanced.  In  illustration  of  this  statement  reference  mas- 
he  had  to  the  introduction  of  American  blue  denims,  whicli 
brought  into  the  Haytian  trade  proved  to  be  so  acceptable, 
though  manufactured  without  the  least  reference  to  the 
demands  of  trade  in  that  country  as  to  quantity  in  each 
piece,  with  color  or  other  peculiarity,  that  they  took  pos- 
session of  the  market,  driving  out  even  English  manufac- 
turers of  that  character,  causing  the  merchants,  who  had 
invested  largely  in  that  grade  of  goods  from  that  source, 
to  admit  in  many  cases  very  considerable  loss.  On  one 
occasion,  in  connection  with  this  subject,  a  German  mer- 
chant who  had  lost  quite  heavily  upon  his  investments  in 
the  English  goods,  said  to  the  American  consul-general, 
"  The  Haytians  have  gone  crazy  on  American  blue  denims," 
to  which  the  officer  replied,  "  Their  frenzy  is  the  perfection 
of  wisdom." 

On  the  next  Sabbath  following  this  conversation,  when 

the  American  consul-general  attending  the  great  monthly 

dress  parade  of  the   army,  sixteen    thousand    in    number, 

clothed    in    pants   and    coats   all    made  of  American   blue 

25 


382       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

denim,  and  in  addition  thereto  found  most  of  the  ordinary 
classes,  men  and  women,  attired  in  the  same  material,  it 
did  really  seem  that  the  good  German  merchant  had  fair 
cause  for  his  complaint.  However,  this  trade  went  on  and 
other  American  cotton  goods  of  important  and  valuable 
character  were  added  gradually  to  the  importations  of  that 
country. 

During  his  entire  term  of  office  Mr.  Langston  gave  due 
attention  to  every  commercial  interest  of  his  citizens  at 
home  and  in  Hai'ti.  So  far  as  practicable  he  urged  the 
development  of  trade  in  that  behalf,  and  the  protection  and 
advancement  of  every  interest  pertaining  to  American  ship- 
ping ;  at  no  time  neglecting  either  the  captain  or  the  sailor, 
whose  rights,  privileges  or  welfare  seemed  to  be  in  anywise 
endangered  or  disturbed.  As  he  exercised  wise  discretion 
and  earnest  effort  to  that  end  himself,  he  required  diligence 
and  exertion  to  the  same  purpose  of  the  consular  officers 
and  agents  who  were  under  his  direction.  The  largest, 
most  desirable  results  rewarded  these  labors. 

So  far  as  his  services  in  his  diplomatic  capacity  were  con- 
cerned, such  was  the  situation  of  affairs  in  Haiti  on  his  ar- 
rival that  Mr.  Langston  was  called  immediately  to  duty. 
*  Indeed  he  was  introduced  to  the  major  part  of  the  members 
of  the  diplomatic  corps  at  a  meeting  held  by  that  body 
within  at  most  the  second  day  after  his  recognition  by  Presi- 
dent Canal.  The  matter  in  contention  respected  an  impor- 
tant claim  urged  by  the  Spanish  government  against  the 
Haytian,  and  involved  such  elements  of  intricacy  and  deli- 
cacy as  to  necessitate  grave  and  elaborate  consideration  by 
the  corps.  The  papers  in  the  case  were  written  in  the  Span- 
ish language,  while  the  debates  had  upon  the  matter  in- 
volved were  conducted  in  French.  In  the  sequel,  the  judg- 
ment of  the  corps  embodied  in  its  advice  to  the  government 
duly  formulated,  was  drawn  by  the  new  American  member. 
Subsequently,  in  all  matters  brought  to  the  attention  of  the 
corps,  whether  they  respected  the  obligations  of  the  Haytian 
government  to  foreign  powers  or  concerned  differences  be- 
tween that  government  and  revolutionary  leaders  and  move- 


DIPLOMATIC  AND  CONSULAR  SERVICES.          383 

merits  of  domestic  character,  he  was  made  both  as  regarded 
his  judgment,  counsel  and  labors,  a  member  of  conspicuous 
influence  and  effort. 

So  far  as  his  own  citizens  and  their  claims  were  con- 
cerned he  was  confronted  by  many  grave  and  serious  mat- 
ters, some  standing  for  even  more  than  twenty  years, 
requiring  consideration  and  settlement  at  the  earliest  prac- 
ticable moment.  One  case  especially,  involving  over  a 
million  of  dollars  in  the  claim  preferred — a  reclamation 
which  had  commanded  the  close  thought  and  exercised  the 
great  learning  of  Secretary  Seward,  which  had  its  origin  in 
violent  and  unjustifiable  treatment  accorded  an  American 
citizen,  even  before  the  late  rebellion — was  early  presented 
to  Mr.  Langston  for  full  investigation  and  report  to  his  own 
government,  with  reference  to  the  preparation  and  presen- 
tation of  instructions  to  him  for  its  consideration  and  settle- 
ment by  the  Haytian  government  as  the  same  might  be 
brought  to  and  urged  upon  its  attention.  Another  case 
which  was  of  long  standing,  involving  a  very  large  amount 
as  the  measure  of  damages  for  the  nonfulfilment  of  a 
contract  made  by  the  Haytian  government  with  an  Ameri- 
can citizen,  which  case  had  already  commanded  the  serious 
attention  of  the  United  •  States  government  but  which 
had  not  been  settled  because  of  diverse  points  of  law  and 
fact  about  which  there  were  contrarieties  of  belief  and 
opinion,  was  brought  also  at  an  early  day  to  Tiis  notice  for 
investigation  and  report.  Upon  his  report  the  honorable 
secretary  of  state  instructed  him  to  proceed  in  the  latter, 
as  in  the  former  case,  to  press  the  claims  of  his  citizens. 
Still  other  matters  of  great  importance  and  moment  of 
quite  too  long  standing,  in  which  American  citizens  were 
deeply  concerned,  aggregating  a  very  considerable  sum  of 
money,  against  the  Haytian  government,  were  pressed  upon 
his  attention  and  commanded  his  efforts.  Upon  the  con- 
sideration of  these  matters  and  their  settlement  he  was  early 
instructed,  and  entered  with  earnestness  and  decision  upon 
such  efforts  in  regard  to  them  as  seemed  to  him  to  be  wise 
and  r.dvantaereous. 


384       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

In  every  case,  either  by  settlement  with  the  Haytian 
government  directly,  or  by  some  arrangement  of  arbitration 
and  reference,  he  brought  all  these  matters  to  reasonable, 
amicable  conclusion  and  adjustment  ;  maintaining  always 
all  the  rights,  privileges  and  immunities  which  his  citizens 
might  claim  under  the  Treaty  of  1864,  made  by  his  own 
with  the  Haytian  government,  and  under  those  regulations 
and  usages  justified  and  sustained  by  all  civilized  powers 
according  to  accepted  international  law. 

So  far  as  he  had  obligations  and  duties  as  a  member  of 
the  diplomatic  corps,  growing  out  of  his  relations  to  the 
Haytian  government  on  the  one  part,  or  any  foreign  power 
on  the  other,  whose  representative  was  associated  with  him 
in  that  body,  and  who  was  entitled  by  the  demands  of  law 
or  acknowledged  usages  to  his  sympathy  and  support  in 
connection  with  any  question  of  significance  resulting  from 
any  act  or  omission  on  the  part  of  the  Haytian  authorities, 
he  acted  promptly,  but  always  with  becoming  caution  and 
moderation.  To  one  unacquainted  with  the  real  condition 
of  the  country  near  whose  government  he  was  accredited — 
often  disturbed  by  revolutions  threatening  its  very  exist- 
ence, involving  and  working  too  frequently  immense  de- 
struction of  property  and  life  and  at  times  the  property  and 
lives  of  citizens  of  other  governments  residing  therein,  thus 
causing  reclamations,  presenting  vexed  questions  of  liability 
of  international  character  for  discussion  and  adjustment — 
the  difficulty  of  his  situation  and  the  responsibility  which  he 
was  compelled  to  carry  constantly  will  not  appear  in  their 
full  gravity,  nor  in  anything  like  full  measure,  upon  any  other 
than  the  most  serious  careful  reflection.  This  would  be 
true  of  him  in  his  simple  individual  representative  capacity, 
since  the  voice  and  the  judgment  of  the  United  States  of 
America  must  be  heard  and  accepted  as  he  presented  them. 
And  no  one  was  ever  more  conscious  of  the  dignity  and 
responsibility  of  his  position,  nor  more  appreciative  of  his 
duty  and  the  necessity  and  propriety  of  its  wise  and  judi- 
cious performance  than  the  person  who  at  this  time  was 
called  to  speak  for  the  most  intelligent,  worthy  and  free 


DIPLOMATIC  AND  CONSULAR  SERVICES.          385 

nation  on  the  globe,  while  he  was  permitted  to  formulate 
and  express  the  judgment  and  purpose  of  the  best  and 
most  powerful  government  known  to  man. 

But  when  it  is  recollected  that  he  was  during  his  entire 
term,  the  only  lawyer  a  member  of  the  diplomatic  corps, 
and  that  for  the  whole  time  of  his  service,  after  the  first  two 
years,  he  was  dean  of  that  body,  his  position  may  be  thor- 
oughly and  justly  appreciated.  As  dean  of  the  corps  in 
the  country  of  his  residence  and  in  the  midst  of  the  circum- 
stances so  peculiar  and  unusual  which  surrounded  him,  he 
was  held  to  specially  trying  and  difficult  responsibilities  and 
duties.  Besides,  as  the  American  minister  he  maintained 
what  was  regarded  as  new  and  debatable  ideas  as  to  the 
obligations  of  his  legation  in  times  of  revolution,  as  afford- 
ing refuge  therein  to  rebels  overtaken  in  defeat.  His  con- 
duct in  refusing  shelter  and  protection  to  such  persons  was 
novel,  and  put  him  in  such  relations  to  every  other  legation 
and  consulate  exercising  diplomatic  functions,  as  to  impose 
upon  him  additional  responsibility  and  explanation.  Be- 
sides, prior  to  his  arrival  and  control  of  the  United  States 
Legation,  his  predecessors  had,  without  a  single  exception, 
given  asylum  to  persons  situated  as  described  and  exposed 
to  the  rigors  of  the  Haytian  government.  However,  he 
was  entirely  able  to  maintain  his  position  on  this  subject, 
and  during  his  entire  term,  although  he  found  the  custom 
of  receiving  refugees  not  only  in  the  various  legations  but 
in  the  consulates  as  well,  universal  and  uniform,  he  declined 
to  take  any  refugee  in  his,  and  did  not  favor  at  all  such  ac- 
tion on  the  part  of  any  subordinate  American  officer. 
This  course  of  his  resulted  finally,  not  only  in  great  advan- 
tage to  the  Haytian  government  in  the  preservation  of  its 
good  order  and  peace,  discouraging  and  preventing  often 
revolutionary  movements,  but  proved  advantageous  to  his 
own  government  and  others  in  that  in  such  peaceful  con- 
ditions of  society  and  the  undisturbed  administration  of  the 
government,  opportunity  was  afforded  to  all  concerned  for 
the  quiet  and  appropriate  consideration  and  orderly  settle- 
ment of  grave  matters  of  international  character  and 
moment. 


386       FROM  THE  PLANTATION  TO  THE  CAPITOL. 

And  yet,  As  dean  of  the  diplomatic  corps,  he  was  so  sit- 
uated that  communications  frequently  coining  from  the 
leaders  of  revolutionary  enterprises,  compelled  his  recogni- 
tion while  adding  sensibly  and  materially  to  his  duties. 
When  perplexed  and  puzzled  by  revolutionary  conditions, 
formidable  and  threatening,  it  was  not  infrequently  the  case 
that  the  government  itself  addressed  him  its  communications 
when  it  felt  its  need  of  the  counsel  and  sympathy  of  the 
corps.  In  either  case  Mr.  Langston  never  failed  to  de- 
mean himself  and  influence  the  corps  in  such  way  as  to 
secure  the  largest  advantage  of  all  interested,  immediately 
or  remotely.  Such  statements  find  full  illustration  and  con- 
firmation in  the  facts  which  are  here  recorded.  Shortly 
after  his  arrival  in  Port-au-Prince,  while  Boirond-Canal  was 
president  of  the  republic,  a  revolutionary  struggle  headed 
by  Boyer  Bazlais  and  Edmond  Paul  broke  out  in  that  city, 
to  the  surprise  and  terror  not  only  of  the  people  generally, 
but  of  the  government  itself.  In  the  absence  of  her  Bri- 
tannic majesty's  representative,  the  American  minister 
acted  as  the  dean  of  the  diplomatic  corps.  The  government, 
ill  prepared  for  this  warlike  and  violent  demonstration, 
hurried  its  messenger  to  the  United  States  Legation  with 
its  appeal  to  the  minister  and  his  associates  of  the  corps  for 
counsel  as  to  the  course  which  it  might  be  wise"  to  pursue 
in  the  suppression  of  the  movement,  and  for  their  assistance 
in  good  offices  calculated  to  aid  it  in  the  accomplishment. 
It  would  use,  if  possible,  the  influence  of  the  foreign  repre- 
sentatives with  those  leaders  to  check  and  prevent  the 
threatened  slaughter  of  prominent  officials  and  the  inevit- 
able destruction  of  property.  Convoking  his  associates 
promptly,  and  explaining  to  them  the  conditions  of  the 
community,  so  exposed  and  defenceless  for  the  moment, 
and  the  attitude  of  the  government  with  its  fearful  responsi- 
bility, the  acting  dean  accompanied  the  corps  in  a  body  to 
the  national  palace,  where  after  a  full,  free  conference,  ac- 
cording to  advice  and  counsel  given  it  the  government  put 
itself  at  once  and  with  vigor  in  such  condition  of  attack 
and  defence  as  that  it  found  itself  quite  able  to  cope  with 


DIPLOMATIC  AND  CONSULAR  SERVICES.          387 

and  defeat  the  rebels,  though  led  by  two  of  the  most  influ- 
ential men  at  that  time  in  the  republic.  In  this  particular 
instance  the  charge  of  the  government  finally  made  upon 
the  strongholds  of  the  insurgents  was  furious  and  destructive 
alike  of  life  and  property.  Quick,  sharp  and  terrible  was 
the  work  done.  And,  with  the  rout  of  Bazlais  and  Paul, 
with  their  co-conspiritors,  the  awful  destruction  of  property 
and  life  had  was  witnessed  in  the  utter  ruin  of  ten  solid 
acres  of  the  very  best  part  of  the  city  of  Port-au-Prince, 
and  in  the  dead  and  wounded  whose  care,  treatment  and 
burial  commanded  the  attention  and  efforts  of  the  govern- 
ment, with  the  aid  of  relatives  and  friends,  for  several  days. 
The  flame  rolling  across  the  vast  expanse  of  the  city,  de- 
vouring the  richest,  most  costly  and  beautiful  structures, 
public  and  private,  were  ignited  and  augmented  by  the 
heavy  and  deathly  charges  of  the  soldiery,  with  the  Win- 
chester rifles  and  cannon  employed  under  order  and  by 
direction  of  the  government.  The  house  of  Bazlais,  where 
many  of  the  insurgents,  armed,  concealed  themselves  and 
fired  upon  even  defenceless  citizens  from  ambush,  was  utterly 
demolished  by  attack  and  conflagration,  while  nothing  of 
the  home  of  Paul  remained  but  the  heaps  of  ashes  which 
marked  its  site.  It  was  in  this  struggle  that  General  Mani- 
gat  discovered  not  only  his  matchless  loyalty  to  the  govern- 
ment, but  a  Spartan,  unflinching  courage,  which  won  for 
him  the  name  of  a  brave  and  faithful  soldier.